CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has responded to a letter from West Virginia’s congressional delegates related to elevated lead levels in the Clarksburg Water System, noting efforts to address the issue.

U.S. Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., in addition to Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., sent a letter to EPA Administrator Michael Regan last month requesting assistance with the emergency, in which agencies have noted increased lead levels in water impacting 18,000 Clarksburg residents and 38,000 other people.

Acting Regional Administrator Diana Esher noted to the legislators that federal officials are working with the state Department of Health and Human Resources on getting the Clarksburg Water Board into compliance with the state’s July 2 order. Experts have also spoken to local and state officials about corrosion control treatment and the necessary work for implementing a related study.

One issue lawmakers asked Regan involved efforts to provide assistance with sampling.

“You will be happy to know EPA has been actively and consistently collaborating with WVDHHR and CWB, offering technical guidance and expertise on all aspects of compliance with the Order, including sampling while carefully avoiding any violations of the Anti-Deficiency Act and the Federal Grant Cooperative Agreement Act,” she said.

According to Esher, the EPA has provided technical guidance and input as well as templates for notifying customers of tap water test results and elevated lead levels.

Esher also noted the local water board has access to various federal funding resources and other assistance.

“The elevated levels of lead found in homes served by the Clarksburg drinking water system are concerning and must be addressed quickly,” Manchin said. “I am pleased with the EPA’s timely response, but more must be done to ensure the health and safety of our fellow West Virginians. As we continue to find ways to address the concerning levels of lead the drinking water, I will push for the EPA, West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, and Clarksburg Water System to provide the residents affected with the support they need.”

Capito said coordination between local, state and federal officials is critical as response efforts continue.

“Protecting public health remains the top priority, and together we will ensure residents impacted by elevated levels of lead receive the resources they need,” she said.

“We are thankful for the quick response from the EPA to our questions,” McKinley said. “Our office has been working almost daily with the EPA, State of WV, and Clarksburg Water Board to address this issue and ensure the residents have access to clean and safe water. It is critical that testing and evaluation of lead levels happen quickly and that alternate water options are made available. The EPA and WVDHHR must take every step possible to address this issue and assist the residents of Clarksburg.”

McKinley additionally sent a letter to Gov. Jim Justice in July, in which he asked the state Department of Health and Human Resources to assist the Clarksburg Water Board with compliance. McKinley further asked the state to not penalize the board $5,000 for each day of noncompliance.