Anatomy of DC's Tap WaterRSS
The Washington Aqueduct (Army Corps of Engineers)and DC Water (District of Columbia Sewer and Water Authority or DC WASA) are the two government entities that produce and distribute Washington D.C.’s tap water. The Washington Aqueduct collects water from the Potomac River, treats it, and sells it to DC Water, and DC Water is responsible for distributing the water to homes and businesses in DC, as well as maintaining water quality standards along the way.
By Kmusser - Own work, Elevation data from SRTM, hydrologic data from the National Hydrography Dataset, urban areas from Vector Map, all other features from the National Atlas., CC BY-SA 3.0
DC WASA does much more than “keeping the pipes flowing” (which with more than 1300 miles of pipe is a logistical feat on its own), they also employ a team of dedicated water quality experts, all working to ensure that water quality meets or exceeds standards set by US EPA. This means running 24/7 compliance (tests that they are legally obligated to do) and voluntary (above and beyond) monitoring programs throughout the city. One interesting aspect of this voluntary program is maintaining mobile laboratories that are staffed with technicians that can be dispatched to investigate emergencies and respond to customer complaints.
DC WASA also puts a great deal of time and effort into community engagement and public awareness. DC WASA participates in over 100 community outreach events each year to help customers understand the valuable water services they provide. One example of these programs is the Clean Rivers Project, where DC WASA promotes best practices practices to minimize the amount of sewer overflow that is discharged into D.C.'s waterways. In addition to managing a water education program for District students, DC WASA hosts annual town hall meetings in every ward of the city.
Throughout my career, I’ve had the opportunity to work with a number of municipalities (both large and small), and DC WASA does a very good job with information transparency. I would encourage all residents to check out their website (www.dcwater.com) for more information, which includes things like: water quality reports, overall strategic plan, and the role that residents play in maintaining water quality within their own home.