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Response from the SHA

Forgot to mention that the Seattle Housing Authority is all over the issue of possible lead in the water at New Holly (which I guess is officially spelled NewHolly). January 4th they had people all over the neighborhood sticking letters on doors. I transcribed it here for future reference.

January 4, 2008

Dear NewHolly residents:

There has been news coverage over the past day or two indicating that there may be a problem a NewHolly with high levels of lead in the drinking water. I want to personally assure you that NewHolly’s water has been tested, does not contain high levels of lead, and is well within acceptable standards.

When homes and rental properties in Phase I of NewHolly were constructed, a heating system that used new technology was used. This hydronic system combined hot water for heating with water used for washing, showers, etc. Beginning around 2004, problems with the heading system began to appear. One problem was that the tubing was corroded and leaked, making the system ineffective. This problematic system was used in Phase I only.

In 2006 SHA hired Pressler Forensics, Inc. to investigate why these systems were failing, so that SHA could take appropriate corrective action. During their investigation, Pressler staff tested the water in 19 rental units. Samples from one of these units showed elevated levels of lead in the water. Within one month, SHA had all of these 19 rental units re-tested by a different company, and the results showed no elevated lead levels.

We have been discussing the heating system issue with the NewHolly Homeowners Association since last spring. The Association asked for a copy of the Pressler report and we agreed to share it. Unfortunately, the Association did not receive the report until recently. I want to assure you that we did not intentionally withhold it. We did not anticipate that the issue of lead in NewHolly drinking water would rise to the current level of concern because we believed the re-testing that took place immediately established the water is safe.

Still, I understand your concerns—everyone wants to be certain that the water we are drinking is safe. In order to put this to rest, we will immediately contract with an independent testing lab to sample the water in the homes of NewHolly Phase I residents. We will ask the lab to test a statistically valid sample of homeowner units to measure lead levels in the water. As soon as these results are available, I will communicate them to you.

If you have further questions, please call General Counsel James Fearn (206-615-3570) or Communications Director Virginia Felton (206-615-3506). I am sorry that lack of complete information has caused concern for you. Thank you for your patience.

Sincerely,
Tom Tierney
Executive Director

35 comments to Response from the SHA

  • Uh … what the hell?

    It was tested positive, then negative—so they left it at that? Wha … what?

    How is that not actionable?

    • They got the answer they wanted and they stopped looking and didn’t bother mentioning it to anyone else. Yeah, I’m thinking they’d better be pretty damn sure on something like “lead in the water” myself.

  • Uh … what the hell?

    It was tested positive, then negative—so they left it at that? Wha … what?

    How is that not actionable?

    • They got the answer they wanted and they stopped looking and didn’t bother mentioning it to anyone else. Yeah, I’m thinking they’d better be pretty damn sure on something like “lead in the water” myself.

    • They got the answer they wanted and they stopped looking and didn’t bother mentioning it to anyone else. Yeah, I’m thinking they’d better be pretty damn sure on something like “lead in the water” myself.

  • Uh … what the hell?

    It was tested positive, then negative—so they left it at that? Wha … what?

    How is that not actionable?

  • Uh … what the hell?

    It was tested positive, then negative—so they left it at that? Wha … what?

    How is that not actionable?

    • They got the answer they wanted and they stopped looking and didn’t bother mentioning it to anyone else. Yeah, I’m thinking they’d better be pretty damn sure on something like “lead in the water” myself.

  • Uh … what the hell?

    It was tested positive, then negative—so they left it at that? Wha … what?

    How is that not actionable?

  • I think my next step would be investigating how (and how expensive it is) to test for lead in your own water, rather than depending on a statistical sample. I don’t care how likely it is that my water is safe; I want to KNOW that it is safe.

    And, if it’s not, I want to be able to wave a test result in their face and say “Fix this or see your faces on the evening news.”

    • It took getting the SHA members off our Homeowners Association board and someone going to the media to get this response out of them in the first place, so yeah, it wouldn’t surprise me if it’s going to take more of the same to get problems fixed going forward.

      Agree that at this point I’m not going to trust their statistical sample. Best to do it myself. So far we haven’t seen any of the signs of “failure” in our system that others have reported but one woman (who owns two units here) had to replace both of them at her expense more than a year ago and has been the squeaky wheel trying to get them to own up to the issue all this time. If not for her, I’m pretty sure they couldn’t have been “discussing the heating system issue” with anyone.

  • I think my next step would be investigating how (and how expensive it is) to test for lead in your own water, rather than depending on a statistical sample. I don’t care how likely it is that my water is safe; I want to KNOW that it is safe.

    And, if it’s not, I want to be able to wave a test result in their face and say “Fix this or see your faces on the evening news.”

    • It took getting the SHA members off our Homeowners Association board and someone going to the media to get this response out of them in the first place, so yeah, it wouldn’t surprise me if it’s going to take more of the same to get problems fixed going forward.

      Agree that at this point I’m not going to trust their statistical sample. Best to do it myself. So far we haven’t seen any of the signs of “failure” in our system that others have reported but one woman (who owns two units here) had to replace both of them at her expense more than a year ago and has been the squeaky wheel trying to get them to own up to the issue all this time. If not for her, I’m pretty sure they couldn’t have been “discussing the heating system issue” with anyone.

    • It took getting the SHA members off our Homeowners Association board and someone going to the media to get this response out of them in the first place, so yeah, it wouldn’t surprise me if it’s going to take more of the same to get problems fixed going forward.

      Agree that at this point I’m not going to trust their statistical sample. Best to do it myself. So far we haven’t seen any of the signs of “failure” in our system that others have reported but one woman (who owns two units here) had to replace both of them at her expense more than a year ago and has been the squeaky wheel trying to get them to own up to the issue all this time. If not for her, I’m pretty sure they couldn’t have been “discussing the heating system issue” with anyone.

  • I think my next step would be investigating how (and how expensive it is) to test for lead in your own water, rather than depending on a statistical sample. I don’t care how likely it is that my water is safe; I want to KNOW that it is safe.

    And, if it’s not, I want to be able to wave a test result in their face and say “Fix this or see your faces on the evening news.”

  • I think my next step would be investigating how (and how expensive it is) to test for lead in your own water, rather than depending on a statistical sample. I don’t care how likely it is that my water is safe; I want to KNOW that it is safe.

    And, if it’s not, I want to be able to wave a test result in their face and say “Fix this or see your faces on the evening news.”

    • It took getting the SHA members off our Homeowners Association board and someone going to the media to get this response out of them in the first place, so yeah, it wouldn’t surprise me if it’s going to take more of the same to get problems fixed going forward.

      Agree that at this point I’m not going to trust their statistical sample. Best to do it myself. So far we haven’t seen any of the signs of “failure” in our system that others have reported but one woman (who owns two units here) had to replace both of them at her expense more than a year ago and has been the squeaky wheel trying to get them to own up to the issue all this time. If not for her, I’m pretty sure they couldn’t have been “discussing the heating system issue” with anyone.

  • I think my next step would be investigating how (and how expensive it is) to test for lead in your own water, rather than depending on a statistical sample. I don’t care how likely it is that my water is safe; I want to KNOW that it is safe.

    And, if it’s not, I want to be able to wave a test result in their face and say “Fix this or see your faces on the evening news.”

  • They got the answer they wanted and they stopped looking and didn’t bother mentioning it to anyone else. Yeah, I’m thinking they’d better be pretty damn sure on something like “lead in the water” myself.

  • It took getting the SHA members off our Homeowners Association board and someone going to the media to get this response out of them in the first place, so yeah, it wouldn’t surprise me if it’s going to take more of the same to get problems fixed going forward.

    Agree that at this point I’m not going to trust their statistical sample. Best to do it myself. So far we haven’t seen any of the signs of “failure” in our system that others have reported but one woman (who owns two units here) had to replace both of them at her expense more than a year ago and has been the squeaky wheel trying to get them to own up to the issue all this time. If not for her, I’m pretty sure they couldn’t have been “discussing the heating system issue” with anyone.

  • In 2006 SHA hired Pressler Forensics, Inc. to investigate why these systems were failing, so that SHA could take appropriate corrective action.

    I read that as “creative” action … but I’m not so sure I’m mistaken.

  • In 2006 SHA hired Pressler Forensics, Inc. to investigate why these systems were failing, so that SHA could take appropriate corrective action.

    I read that as “creative” action … but I’m not so sure I’m mistaken.

  • In 2006 SHA hired Pressler Forensics, Inc. to investigate why these systems were failing, so that SHA could take appropriate corrective action.

    I read that as “creative” action … but I’m not so sure I’m mistaken.

  • In 2006 SHA hired Pressler Forensics, Inc. to investigate why these systems were failing, so that SHA could take appropriate corrective action.

    I read that as “creative” action … but I’m not so sure I’m mistaken.

  • In 2006 SHA hired Pressler Forensics, Inc. to investigate why these systems were failing, so that SHA could take appropriate corrective action.

    I read that as “creative” action … but I’m not so sure I’m mistaken.

  • dang. that’s a real “cover your ass in case of potential lawsuits” letter!

  • dang. that’s a real “cover your ass in case of potential lawsuits” letter!

  • dang. that’s a real “cover your ass in case of potential lawsuits” letter!

  • dang. that’s a real “cover your ass in case of potential lawsuits” letter!

  • dang. that’s a real “cover your ass in case of potential lawsuits” letter!

  • Lawyer! I choose you!

    Use your “sue greedy, irresponsible assholes into last week” attack!