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Portland Water Bureau (XLC)XLC Logo

November 26, 1997 Letter to Rosemary Menard from David Gardiner

Rosemary Menard, Director
Water Resources Management Group
City of Portland Bureau of Water Works

1120 S.W. 5th Avenue
Portland, OR 97204-1926

Dear Ms. Menard:

On behalf of the United States Environmental Protection Agency, I am writing to thank you for your application to our XL for Communities (XLC) pilot program and to invite you to negotiate a Final Project Agreement. Your proposal for an integrated, risk-based, multi-media approach to lead hazard reduction is consistent with XLC's goal to achieve greater levels of public health protection by providing communities with the flexibility to meet environmental goals in the way that makes most sense locally.

Bringing your proposal to a completed Final Project Agreement is premised on our mutual commitments to the overall objectives of XLC. These include superior environmental results; broad stakeholder participation and support; accountability for results; community capacity building; and innovation and flexibility. EPA expects that the Final Project Agreement, if we are able to agree upon one, will reflect each of these principles, and that they will form the basis for our work together in the coming months. Only the signing of the FPA will constitute acceptance as an XL Communities pilot project.

Our assessment of the appropriateness of this project under the XLC Environmental Results criteria is based in part on the most recent monitoring information regarding the levels of lead and copper in Portland's drinking water. Should those levels increase significantly during any subsequent monitoring, the Agency will evaluate whether the project still meets the criteria for participation in the XLC program. We would, of course, coordinate closely with the City and the State if such an evaluation became necessary.

To focus the negotiations for the Final Project Agreement, we want to draw your attention to several remaining concerns. Specifically, we want to ensure that we have adequate information to evaluate the results of the project. In response to these concerns, my colleagues and I have discussed and agreed upon, in addition to the general principles identified above, several conditions that EPA believes will need to be addressed and resolved to our mutual satisfaction before a Final Project Agreement can be reached.

Briefly these include the following:

Clarifying the Scope of the Home Lead Hazard Reduction Program (HLHRP)

EPA will seek commitments by the Water Bureau to implement, monitor, and evaluate a proactive, preventative program that identifies and addresses housing at high risk for lead paint and dust exposure and to perform more comprehensive lead-abatement measures and maintenance where they are warranted. Also as part of this Program, EPA will seek commitments to ensure that lead management and abatement activities are carried out safely and effectively by trained, and where appropriate, certified personnel with the necessary insurance.

In order to negotiate the components of the HLHRP, EPA will need additional information on activities underway in Portland. In particular, these activities include: intervention activities that are triggered by the discovery of a lead-poisoned child; HUD support for lead mitigation in Portland; CDC support; and lastly current community-initiated activities related to lead poisoning and the role of XLC in initiating, complementing, and enhancing this activity. EPA also believes it will be crucial to the negotiation process to have the direct involvement of local health service providers. Finally, the FPA should address how savings from the water treatment program and any external funding, including the HUD grant recently awarded to Multnomah County, will be invested in and will enhance the lead abatement and education activities of the HLHRP.

Implementing National Primary Drinking Water Regulations for Lead and Copper

Because the State has approved Portland's current treatment program, we understand that the City is not requesting any regulatory relief from the Lead and Copper Rule's (LCR) corrosion control treatment technique requirements. The Agency has no present intention to challenge Oregon's finding that Portland is in compliance with the treatment requirements of the LCR. Portland and its consecutive water systems will be required to maintain the corrosion control treatment approved by Oregon, and to monitor for lead and copper at the tap and water quality parameters at the locations specified in the rule. Our offer to enter Final Project Agreement negotiations does not endorse regulatory relief from any changes to corrosion control treatment that may be required by the State in the future. Relief or variance from any of these provisions would fall outside of Portland's current XLC proposal and any resulting FPA.

In addition to maintaining the current treatment program, the Final Project Agreement should address the Water Bureau's response to homes at-risk for high levels of lead and copper in drinking water. The FPA should include the Bureau's plan to characterize accurately and adequately tap water lead and copper levels for both wholesale customer water systems and the City of Portland. We would also expect the FPA to address monitoring and mitigation of lead and copper in drinking water for schools and day care facilities consistent with EPA's 1994 Guidance.

Finally, you have requested approval of your approach as a substitute for the public education requirements of the Lead and Copper Rule. It is unclear how your proposal would address the need, in the event lead levels should rise above the action level in the future, for providing system-wide information to the public regarding the risks of lead exposure through drinking water and ways to reduce that exposure. This issue should be discussed during FPA negotiations.

Overall Project Conditions

FPA negotiations will also need to define what level of oversight is appropriate, who those oversight parties are and clearly define success in the performance monitoring and evaluation plan for the LHRP. An important term of the implementing agreement for the project will also be a demonstrated financial commitment to the Lead Hazard Reduction Program for the initial XLC project period and for a negotiated period of time beyond that. In this regard, we expect the City to demonstrate specific budgetary commitments, staffing levels, and performance plans prior to project approval.

Finally, the Agency will seek a commitment that the residents of Portland and the Bull Run service area be fully informed about this project. I know you share our interest in the public's right to understand that the benefits expected from the household abatement program would in part come from the successes achieved through past and ongoing efforts to reduce lead concentrations in drinking water. In this light, we believe that none of the various exposure and risk assessments that have been conducted by Portland and by the Agency are sufficiently accurate to be presented as a basis for this proposed program. While the exposure models used are well documented and capable of providing good approximations of population blood-lead levels, the modeling conducted contains significant uncertainties associated with critical estimates related to exposure throughout Portland to lead paint dust, and highly uncertain assumptions regarding the efficacy of paint lead abatements.

I believe these are reasonable and achievable conditions and goals for our negotiations. EPA will commit staff from the Regional Office and relevant Program Offices to work with you, the State, and the residents of Portland and the Bull Run Service Area to forge an agreement that will be the basis for a project that will achieve superior public health protection. We believe that this concerted effort, combined with your substantive commitments, creates an excellent opportunity to realize the goals envisioned in your proposal. We look forward to working with you.




David Gardiner

Assistant Administrator


cc: Grant Higginson, MD, MPH, Oregon Health Division

David Leland, PE, Drinking Water Program, Oregon Health Division

Gary Oxman, MD, MPH, Multnomah County Health Department

Chuck Fox, EPA

Chuck Clarke, EPA Region X

Chuck Findley, EPA Region X

William Glasser, EPA Region X

Wendy Cleland-Hamnett, EPA

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