Does Your House Have Lead Water Pipes? Find Out

DC WAter Lead Pipe Map

Lead poisoning is a phrase that all parents fear. It can significantly impact a child’s longterm mental health. (Some even argue that the sharp reduction in the crime rate experienced across the world can be explained by the reduction in lead exposure.)  WASA, DC’s water utility (which goes by DC Water these days), has had it’s own troubled past with led poisoning. In 2001, it was disclosed that the use of chloramine to clean pipes had increased the lead levels in the water to as much as 83 times the acceptable levels.

WASA switched the chemicals it uses to clean the pipes every spring, and they believe that has eliminated the risk. Nonetheless, you may still be exposed to lead that you don’t need to be. Specifically, the pipes that bring the water in from the main pipe in the street and the pipes in your house may be made of lead. And WASA has released a new map that identifies whether its own database has information about whether those pipes are lead or not for each house.

Go here and zoom in on your block. There should be a circle for your house. If the left half of it is green, that means WASA believe that pipe from the street is not made of lead. If the right half of the circle is green, it means WASA has information that the pipe in your house is also not made of lead. If either half is dark, that means WASA has records indicating that the pipes are lead. If the halves are white, that means WASA does not know what the pipes are made of. By clicking on a house’s circle it gives you more information.

Most houses in Georgetown have either fully green circles, or green lefts (i.e. public pipes) and white rights (i.e. internal). But there are dozens of homes with at least one half of the circle darkened. If your house is one of them, you should have that checked out. Maybe WASA’s information is wrong, but it’s something you should be sure of, especially if you have young children.


1 Comment

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One response to “Does Your House Have Lead Water Pipes? Find Out

  1. kerlin4321

    DC’s mandatory property disclosure form dedicates seven full pages to the issue of lead paint hazard. But there is zero disclosure requirement concerning lead water pipes. Not surprising, given that most people — and DC — have no idea what the status of their owned or rental property is. While this map is helpful, it still does not reveal the actual status of most properties. You would think this would be a priority. There is little to no risk of lead paint poisoning in a reasonably well-maintained property, whereas children drink water every day at home, school and at public facilities.

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