Collaborating to Eliminate Lead Service Lines in Ward 7

Jun 6, 2024 | Catch the Green Tea, Young, Gifted & Green Blog Series | 0 comments

On a sunny June morning, Young, Gifted & Green, the Campaign to Reduce Lead Exposure & Asthma, Interfaith Power & Light-DMV, and the NAACP DC Branch joined DC Water in Washington, DC’s Ward 7 to observe the replacement of a lead service line. This collaborative site visit was an important step in the ongoing effort to eliminate lead exposure and improve public health outcomes in underserved communities across the District.

Legacy Lead Exposure in DC Ward 7

Ward 7 has long been identified as a high-risk area for lead exposure, with a significant number of homes still served by lead pipes that can leach the toxic metal into drinking water. Children in Ward 7 have some of the highest blood lead levels in the city, putting them at risk of serious developmental and neurological damage. Low-income, Black, and Latinx residents are disproportionately affected, underscoring the deep environmental justice implications of this public health crisis. Young, Gifted & Green has been organizing residents to get their homes tested for lead and advocate for service line replacements. The Campaign to Reduce Lead Exposure & Asthma has been pushing for more equitable policies and funding to accelerate the replacement of lead pipes, while Interfaith Power & Light-DMV has been mobilizing faith communities to raise awareness and support remediation efforts.

Hands on Experience to Get the Lead Out

As the group gathered at the work site, DC Water’s lead service line replacement specialist provided an overview of the replacement process. The hands-on work is physically demanding, with crews having to carefully navigate tight spaces and deal with aging infrastructure. But DC Water lead service line replacement experts emphasized the importance of doing it right.

“This is such critical work, and we’re grateful to see DC Water working with community groups. But there’s still so much more to be done. That’s why we’re fighting for more funding. Many DC residents simply can’t afford to foot the bill for this work, and we refuse to leave anyone behind.”

LaTricea Adams, CEO of Young, Gifted & Green & White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council Appointee

The Road to a Lead Free DC

As of June 30, 2023, DC Water estimated that the District of Columbia has over 42,000 service lines that contain lead or galvanized-iron pipe. DC Water’s Lead Free DC (LFDC) plan, which began in 2019, aims to replace all lead service lines. If DC Water’s Lead Map shows that the private portion of the service pipe is lead, galvanized, or brass, and the public portion is not, the residential property owner is eligible for the Lead Pipe Replacement Assistance Program (LPRAP). All homeowners currently enrolled in LPRAP will receive a 100% discount on their private service line replacement. If a resident is a renter, consent for replacement must be requested from the property owner.

As the morning drew to a close, the group reflected on the progress made and the work still ahead. The replacement of this single service line was a tangible victory, but is a part of a much larger effort to eliminate lead exposure in Ward 7 and beyond. This is an all-hands-on-deck moment and we’re going to keep pushing, keep organizing, and keep working in partnership to make our communities healthier and more just. Every child deserves to grow up in a lead-free environment.

Learn more about DC Water’s Lead Free DC Program at https://www.dcwater.com/resources/lead.

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