Wednesday, August 10, 2005


DC Strikes Back!

Your Water Bill This Month is: $3,500.

Well, the victory over the city on declaring my neighborhood a historic district seems to be shorted lived. Yesterday, my neighbors and I all received large packages from WASA (The water and sewer authority). It's been well publicized here in DC that many of the houses are connected to the city water mains by lead pipes. In fact many homes have lead levels in their water that are way, way above what is considered safe.

WASA knew about this for years, but covered it up. The story broke last year with the requisite local news understatement. "IS YOUR WATER DEADLY?!" So, the city has begun a massive program of swapping out all the connections to the water main in the city. The unfortunate part of the whole equation is that the city will pay for swapping out the pipe from the street to the property line. Fixing the pipe from the property line to the house is the home owners expense. The city can have this done for me while they are doing the other work, but I must agree to it in the next 29 days, pay for it, and then wait for the work to be done in the next year or so.

My estimate was $3,500. But that's just speculation. If they run into problems during the installation and it costs more, I have to pony up. If it costs less, too bad. My neighbor's estimate was $2,900, and some folks down the street had an estimate of $4,000. No explanation of how that estimate was reached, or who the contractors are (and DC has a funny way of awarding contracts, without competition, to unqualified firms who happen to be politically connected.

What to do?

I think I'll have my water tested to see if there is any lead in it. (My old place the levels were 5X's the safe limit). Then perhaps I'll try to FOIA the contracts for the pipe work to find out who has this lucrative contract and if the city put it out for a competitive bid...That may not help, but it at least will cause the bureaucrats over at WASA to sweat a bit (I hope).

ARRGGGHHH! Is homeownership this much of a pain in the @ss everywhere or just here?

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