For children, there are no safe levels of lead in the drinking water, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
"This study is a unique opportunity to advance our understanding of lead in drinking water," DC Water chief George S. Hawkins said. "We share the responsibility with our consumers in identifying lead in water trends and minimizing potential public health risks."
Lead water pipes are a prime source for contamination. A 2010 study conducted in the District concluded that even when municipal water lines are replaced with modern pipes, the risk of lead contamination may increase if the private lead pipes of the homeowner are not also switched out.
DC Water's new effort will examine three areas: water sampling methods, replacement of lead water lines, and public education initiatives.
DC Water says that the incidence of lead poisoning among children in the District has been cut in half over the past five years. The number of cases of elevated lead in the blood among children is around 1 percent of the city's population, which mirrors the national average.
The research project will examine the Environmental Protection Agency's 1991 Lead and Copper Rule. DC Water together with Virginia Tech will make recommendations to improve the regulations to make drinking water safer.