Friday, December 10, 2010

Lots of water issues today: 11th and Euclid, Mt. Pleasant and Irving

Mt. Pleasant Street and Irving, via DCist Martin
Looks like DC Water (aka WASA) is having some issues in our area this morning. There was a water main break on 11th between Clifton and Euclid, and another at Mt. Pleasant Street and Irving. I received this email from a resident of 11th Street:
I live on 11th Street, NW, between Clifton and Euclid.  Since last night, DC Water-related construction has been taking place on a nearby house, and the water in my house has been turned off.  It is now 7:28 AM, and I am unable to shower for work or have running water of any kind.  The construction crew has informed me that the DC Water representatives have left to take care of another matter, and water service will likely not be restored for some time. [Ed: I'm guessing this was the MtP break]  This water outage occurred without notice to neighbors and we were unable to make any plans to preemptively stock up on purchased water prior to this situation.  They were doing construction on the other side of the street earlier in the week, and last night they tore up someone's yard to do work.  Maybe this is due to the reports about lead earlier in the week.  Any ideas what this could have been? 
DC Water's website has both breaks as current issues. For the 11th Street one, it says the 8" water main is supposed to be finished by today at 5:30 am, which is clearly not the case, and that "Some customers in the area may experience a disruption in water service until repairs are complete." It says the exact same thing for the MtP one, which leads me to believe they're related.


  1. New Columbia Heights Readers,

    Across the country, a water main breaks every two minutes on average. Here in the District of Columbia, we average slightly more than one a day, but far more in the early winter months. The median age of a water main in the District is 75 years, with a good number installed during the Civil War era. As you probably know from the extensive media coverage this week, the combination of old pipes and quickly changing air temperature makes water main breaks more likely.

    In the budget and rate structure approved by our Board to begin this past October, DC Water is set to replace 1 percent – or approximately 11 miles – of the District’s cast-iron water mains each year. This is not as fast as we would like, but it is triple the previous replacement rate and twice the national average. It will also mean many, many more torn-up streets than before.

    Our challenge is to maintain and replace an infrastructure installed and initially funded by the federal government, almost exclusively with ratepayer funds, while also spending literally billions of dollars to meet environmental mandates on the wastewater treatment side.

    This is a nationwide issue, and we have joined with our sister utilities across the country to lobby Congress and federal agencies for more funding. In the meantime, we recognize that water main breaks are an inconvenience that leads to water outages and traffic disturbances. If you see one of our Team Blue members out in the field and fixing one of these, we urge you to give him or her your thanks. It’s not easy work this time of year.

    Finally, we do comb the comments on blogs from time to time, but the best way to reach us if you see a fire hydrant problem or water main break is to call us at (202) 612-3400 or send a tweet to @mydcwater.

    Happy holidays,
    The Office of Public Affairs
    District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority (DC Water)

  2. Two nights ago (Wed) I walked passed this very spot and nearly slipped on ice that had formed on the sidewalk. A closer inspection made it clear that the water had leaked from some near surface pipe (over which there was a cover). Perhaps the Office of Public affairs could publicize a number to call (as they have done above) a bit more broadly so that these issues could be nipped in the bud.

  3. @Anonymous, thanks for your comment. Our department head lives in CH.

    We did a lot of media work this week on main breaks, and also spoke with councilmembers' offices. Our phone number is on every truck and every water bill. Any suggestions you have on how to get the word out better would be greatly appreciated. As a public utility, this place is owned by its customers.

  4. Thanks for the comments, DC Water folks.

  5. DC Water - You guys seem pretty responsive; per your request for suggestions: putting the number on a bit of the infrastructure itself might up the responsiveness of us street walkers. If there had been a sticker or label with the number on the leaking pipe cover I might have been more apt to place a call. I don't carry around my bills and if there is a vehicle already on scene there is little reason to make the call. The number may be out there - but I don't think it's the kind of thing most people will save to their phone ahead of time. Put the number where the problems may appear.


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