Case Study

Lead Service Replacement (LSR) Joint Venture Program
 

Situation

While the District's water distribution system was virtually lead-free, some older homes in the District experienced lead leaching from their service from 2001 to 2004. To address the issue, DC Water initiated its Lead Service Replacement program (LSR). The program aimed to improve drinking water quality by replacing public lead service lines and to ensure that lead levels in tap water complied with federal safe drinking water regulations (mandated by the EPA Lead and Copper Rule). In 2008, DC Water modified its program to replace public lead service lines and to encourage property owners to replace the private portion of lead pipe.

Solution

To help inform stakeholders and residents as well as manage expectations, DP Consultants, Inc. (DPC) worked closely with DC Water to develop and implement city-wide communications plans and third party outreach. These critical efforts coordinated and educated stakeholders and residents about LSR. DPC developed numerous consumer-friendly informational and collateral materials. As community liaison representatives, we worked to enhance residents' understanding of the need for replacing lead pipes in their neighborhoods. The outreach included step-by-step preparation and after-construction responsibilities residents encountered in the process. We worked closely with DC Water Office of External Affairs to identify affected and interested elected officials, citywide target audiences, and neighborhood stakeholders. We also developed targeted public outreach tools, identified key neighborhood institutions, and distributed information. We guided media outreach strategies and developed materials such as press releases, public service announcements (PSAs), newspaper notices, and staff media training. In support of the DC Water Office of Government Affairs, we conducted outreach and coordinated with D.C. Council members and other key local and federal government stakeholders to provide regular updates and to resolve and address issues.

DPC developed informational materials, including: mailings, fact sheets, newsletters, brochures, web links, presentations, FAQs.  We created and assisted in the distribution of collateral materials, such as PowerPoint presentations, Managing Expectation Booklets (in English and Spanish versions), door hangers, presentation boards, refrigerator magnets, and web-based materials. The components thoroughly explained LSR-construction-related components, such as “4-Step LSR Process” and “Understanding Your Property Line.”. DPC managed all logistics for neighborhood briefings and community meetings, and partnered with local agencies and organizations to present the LSR program. DPC oversaw and monitored the activities of the Community Liaison Team, which addressed customer issues and tracked responses.

Results

DPC successfully supported DC Water’s efforts to meet the EPA's feedback gathering requirement. These compliance points included engaging government officials, residents, advocates, and stakeholders on the need or appropriate format for continuing the LSR program, suggestions on potential changes, and input on the relative priority of the LSR program.

The problem was corrected, and in the four years following the project’s completion, District drinking water was in full compliance with U.S. Safe Drinking Water Act regulations. Lead lines in public space (between the main and the property line) were still being replaced with copper pipe in conjunction with DC Water's ongoing water main replacement projects. The District continued to notify customers in advance of construction and encourage them to replace private lines.