- The Washington Times - Friday, February 6, 2004

Nobles: Water whistle-blower Seema Bhat.

Drip … drip … drip. The data kept accumulating. District home after District home kept turning up with higher than expected concentrations of lead in the tap water. It was higher than the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) limit of 15 parts per billion — sometimes far higher. Miss Bhat, the water quality manager of the D.C. Water and Sewer Authority (WASA), was aware of the problem, but she couldn’t make anyone else pay attention.

She kept trying to convince supervisors to take action. They ignored her. So she went to the EPA. Her superiors responded by enrolling her in a course designed to teach her to respect the chain of command. Miss Bhat still persisted in releasing information about the problem. In March 1999, her supervisors plugged the leak by firing her.

The whole situation came flooding out this week, alarming residents and angering the D.C. Council and Mayor Anthony Williams. Of the over 6,000 homes tested last summer, over 4,000 had lead contamination in excess of EPA limits. Over 2,000 of them had lead concentrations of over three times EPA limits.

WASA will now have to start replacing the approximately 23,000 lead water service lines in the District. Miss Bhat won’t be supervising the cleanup: Although she won a lawsuit for wrongful termination, WASA has appealed. Residents concerned about lead contamination can call (202) 787-2783.

For constant drumming about the contamination in D.C. tap water, Miss Bhat is the Noble of the week.

Knaves: Sen. John Kerry, for a stunning slap in the face of each individual serving in the National Guard and their families.

A decorated veteran, Mr. Kerry has every reason to be proud of his honorable service in Vietnam. Yet he has chosen to disparage those who chose to serve their country in a different capacity. Earlier this week, he equated dodging the draft with serving in the National Guard, telling Fox News, “I never made any judgments about any choice somebody made about avoiding the draft, about going to Canada, going to jail, being a conscientious objector, going into the National Guard.”

There’s a vast difference between fleeing from service and volunteering for it. Nearly 9,000 members of the Army National Guard participated in the Iraq War. Over 90,000 are actively engaged in the war on terror. More than 50 have laid down their lives. For his dishonorable discharge, Mr. Kerry is the Knave of the week.

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