Campus buildings found to not have lead

University officials found pipes in campus buildings have not been affected by lead, contradicting records from D.C. Water.

The D.C. Water map, released in June, shows 17 buildings owned by GW or used by students that have pipes that may be affected by lead. University spokesman Brett Zongker said the University surveyed and physically inspected the buildings owned by GW shown on the map and determined that they did not have lead.

“The physical inspection did not find any lead piping on campus,” Zongker said.

The University also tested the water from certain buildings and found “no traceable levels of lead.”

The D.C. Water tool compiles available data about buildings in the District and labels them on a map based on how likely they are to use lead pipes. Some buildings D.C. Water found that could have been affected included Bell Hall, the NROTC building on F Street, the GW Deli, Building JJ and the Kappa Alpha Order townhouse on 22nd Street.

D.C. Water uses the most up-to-date information the agency has to fill in the map. If residents see incorrect information on the map they are encouraged to contact D.C. Water so staff members can update the map.

Zongker said the University has informed D.C. Water of the inconsistencies, and GW is collaborating with the agency to change the map.

Melanie Mason, the water coordinator for D.C. Water, spoke at an Advisory Neighborhood Commission Meeting for Foggy Bottom and the West End two weeks ago, teaching residents how to sign up for the city test their water.

Mason said the city cannot test pipes on private properties, but the agency encourages residents to check their own water for lead. Residents can request a bottle from D.C. Water on the agency’s website to fill with their tap water and ask the city to test for lead for free, she said.

Water pipes that were installed before 1950 in D.C. contain lead, which can can contaminate water, Mason said. She said the city added chloramine instead of chlorine to the water flowing through the pipes in 2000, which exposed the lead in older pipes and may have contaminated the water flowing through the pipes.

She said the city then started adding orthophosphate to the water to prevent further corrosion of the lead pipes.

“At the time, it wasn’t known that switching from chlorine to chloramine could disrupt the lead coating on pipes,” Mason said. “We had to change the way that we were adding chemicals to the water.”

Marisa Sinatra contributed reporting.

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