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  • Tiffani Johnson

New DC Water Study For Your Area-Nicholson Street Area Sewer System Evaluation Study

This message is intended to inform you of a new DC Water study that will soon begin in your area. Specifically, we will be assessing the sanitary sewer lines, manholes, and other features that may be related to flow in sewers in Nicholson Street and Riggs Park NE. This initiative will help us understand the root causes for storm related backups in the separate sewer system in this neighborhood (map of the complete study area may be located in the attached project information sheet). Unlike a third of the city that combines storm and sewage in the same pipe, storm pipes and sewage pipes were constructed in this area to separate them. The flooding that residents experienced during the September 10th storm, is an indication that there are unintended pathways for storm water to enter the sewer, resulting in the backups that residents experienced. This study is the first step in the process to identify pathways for rain water to enter the sewer, so that solutions can be engineered to address them. The study we will be conducting in this neighborhood is actually Phase 1 of a multi-phase study we will be implementing in other neighborhoods across the District with similar issues.

The study will involve a number of different investigative activities, including manhole inspections, flow monitoring, closed circuit television (CCTV) inspection, smoke testing, and dye water testing. These activities will be carried out in phases. Detailed descriptions and start dates for each activity, contact information for our team, and other important information may also be found in the attached project information sheet.

As we are planning to begin our activities next week, we wanted to ensure that all stakeholders within the study area were duly informed beforehand. We have mailed to each resident printed copies of our project information sheet and cover letter (also attached to this email) earlier this week, and we have already been receiving some calls and emails from residents for more details, so we are happy to see that customers are receiving the information. Additionally, this email message is being sent to area residents, all ANC 4B and 5A Commissioners, Wards 4 and 5 representatives in the Mayor’s Office of Community Relations and Services, and Wards 4 and 5 Councilmembers Janeese Lewis George and Kenyan McDuffie and members of their staff. Beyond this,

  • We will be launching a dedicated web page for this study, and updating this regularly. We will inform you once it is live.

  • As the study gets underway, we will be providing you all updates to keep you informed about the status of our work activities.

  • Specifically, our smoke testing activity will require special outreach and stakeholder coordination prior to the start of work, so you will be hearing from us again very soon about this part of the study.

  • We are always available and happy to address any questions or concerns you have pertaining to the study, or any other DC Water related topics.

  • Finally, we are available to provide you with a presentation to discuss the study in greater detail. If interested in a presentation, please contact me and we will be happy to accommodate you.

Thanks much for allowing us to share this important information with you, and please let us know if you have any questions.


I also received additional information from DC Water:


"Greetings Commissioner Johnson. I have spoken with our team, and have the following response for you:

Our current study is specifically targeted toward determining the source of high flows inside sanitary sewers during rain storms; this is separate and apart from the other problem you’ve specified below that area residents are also facing-surface flooding related to grading, capacity of existing storm infrastructure, and topography. This study is a pilot effort to help understand the first problem (high flows in sanitary lines). There will be future efforts to more deeply analyze the surface flooding problem, but this will require more of an inter-agency collaboration.

At this time, I do not have any information on when that study will be launched, but we will certainly keep you and the rest of the community informed as things progress.

Thanks much for your interest in our study".

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