GW replaces lead pipeline

GW replaced a lead pipeline last month that prompted the University to test all of its buildings’ water for lead contamination earlier this year.

The removal of the pipeline, which serves the Judaic Studies building, follows warnings from GW to members of the department not to use the building’s tap water. University employees found the service line leading to the department’s townhouse at 2142 G St. during an inspection it conducted to handle concerns about elevated lead levels in water throughout the city.

Officials also plan to replace a newly discovered lead pipeline it found while renovating a townhouse at 611 22nd St., which has been vacant for more than a year.

“This building was not tested this spring for elevated lead levels because it did not have water service at the time,” said Matt Nehmer, assistant director of Media Relations. “The lead service line will be replaced this summer during the building’s renovation.”

In April, GW conducted tests of water from all of its campus buildings for lead. The two-part lead tests consisted of examining the concentration of lead in water immediately after turning on a faucet and once again after letting water flow for several minutes.

Officials found 20 buildings with high lead levels on the first test and one University-owned private residence that failed both tests. Nehmer said residents of that building have declined further assistance from the University.

“After conducting our tests of this building … we notified the tenants and asked them to follow (D.C. Water and Sewer Authority) guidelines as they relate to drinking water,” Nehmer wrote in an e-mail last month. “WASA also offered them guidelines on drinking water and provided a free water filter.”

The corrosion of antiquated lead pipes has resulted in elevated lead levels in thousands of buildings across the city. According to WASA, a private agency that oversees water distribution in the District, more than 23,000 buildings could be affected by lead contamination.

While ingestion of lead does not pose a serious health risk for adults, it can result in high blood pressure, comas and seizures in children and the elderly.

Starting June 1, District officials began adding phosphoric acid to water in some parts of Northwest D.C. to try to reduce lead levels, The Washington Post reported. Assuming the chemical works successfully, authorities will expand its use to the entire city by mid-July.

-Michael Barnett contributed to this report.

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.