Plotting the Pipes

As a result of the lead crisis in Flint, Michigan, many Americans – regardless of where they live – are thinking about their drinking water. That’s good! Water quality is a critical issue and the more people know about where it comes from and how it gets to their faucets, the better they will be prepared to protect their families. Knowledge is the first step!

Water is essentially lead-free when it leaves the treatment plant, and the large water mains in the streets are typically cast-iron. But lead can be released when the water comes in contact with old service lines and plumbing fixtures that contain lead. Lead sources and lead levels vary between buildings, so it is important to identify and remove any lead sources in each household.


With that in mind, this week we released a new visual and easy to use map designed to help property owners identify the material that makes up their water service lines. The map pulls from the data DC Water has in its records pertaining to service pipe material, both on the public side and the private side of the line. The map is available at

Map Detail 1

The District’s drinking water system dates back to the 1800’s and the records of what was put in the ground are at best incomplete, and in some cases, likely inaccurate. But we hope that by sharing the information we do have, our customers will be empowered to make informed decisions about whether to replace the pipes on their property or filter their water if they are concerned about lead.

Map Detail 2We offer two programs that are of value in this regard. First, we provide free lead testing kits to customers – just call 202-354-3600 to request a kit. Second, we will replace lead service lines on the public side for free if the customers is replacing the pipe on the private side. We have seen a spike in requests in this program this year, and in response our Board of Directors has approved additional funding to ensure we can meet the demand.

For more information about our lead program visit

One Comment

  • George,
    I wholeheartedly agree that knowledge in the hands of our community is essential in keeping their trust that potable tap water is as clean as ever. We have a mutual mission, and I applaud the work that DC Water is doing, you are indeed leaders in the water industry. I hope others learn from your example on how they can leverage technology. Thank you.

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