FAQ - September 10 Flooding FAQs

During very heavy rainfalls, the stormwater system can become overwhelmed by a very heavy volume of water. When that happens, some stormwater and sewage in a combined sewer system can be forced back up and into basements as the water overwhelms the sewer lines in the street. The system is impacted by the amount of impervious surface and the amount of rain that falls during a short time period. The rain volume on Thursday exceeded two inches and in some cases was falling at a rate equivalent to a 100 year storm. The DC Water system performed as designed but it cannot prevent all flooding.

In most cases, the DC Water sewage and stormwater system can handle the volume without flooding. Flooding will only occur when the volume exceeds the capacity of the sewer system. Construction of a series of deep underground tunnels known as the DC Water Clean Rivers Project is already vastly reducing the incidence of flooding and sewage overflows across the city. It’s also reducing pollution into the Anacostia River, which is where the excess sewage and stormwater flows during extremely heavy rains. More information about the tunnel system and how it is reducing flooding can be found by visiting www.dcwater.com/cleanrivers

DC Water is conducting a review of this wet weather event to determine the causes of property and surface flooding in impacted areas of the District. Once that report is written, DC Water will share the results with all residents and with other District agencies and we will post it on our website.

DC Water has implemented two programs to assist residents impacted by the flooding. Our Emergency Clean-up Relief Program will pay up to $5,000 towards the cost of flood remediation, such as draining water, removing damaged drywall or eliminating mold. This includes a one-time payment directly to one of the 2 cleaning companies listed or as a customer reimbursement via the claims process.

The second program pays up to $6,000 for the installation of backwater valves to prevent sewage and stormwater from backing up into your home. More information is available here.

More long-term, DC Water is continuing to modernize and rehabilitate its sewer and pump station infrastructure every year. The city inherited a very old system from the federal government and we work every year to invest in reliability and other improvements. In addition, the Clean Rivers Project is steadily reducing flooding incidents and as additional tunnels come on line in 2023 and 2030 there should be even more reduction in overflows and flooding. The First Street Tunnel in Bloomingdale and the lower leg of the Anacostia Tunnel are both in operation and are functioning as overflow storage during heavy rains. For example, the Anacostia tunnel can hold more than 100 million gallons of sewage and stormwater and the First Street tunnel can hold 8 million gallons.

The Emergency Clean-up Relief Program is intended to only provide mitigation assistance. DC Water will pay up to $5,000 to help residents dewater, clean and sanitize their properties.

To schedule service, please contact one of the following companies:

  • Service Master at 703-212-7000 (24/7) or
  • ​ServePro at 703-448-8444 (24/7)

For questions or to resolve issues, please contact the Emergency Clean Up Program hotline at 202-428-5244, 9:00am to 5:00pm, Monday through Friday.

If you are uninsured or under-insured and you already paid a remediation company, you may file a claim via dcwater.com/claims.

If you are seeking payment for your damages, you must submit a claim for consideration and provide proof DC Water was negligent and caused your damage. While we will review all claims, we are not liable for damages caused by certain occurrences that are beyond our control.  

Please file a claim via dcwater.com/claims. Once you’ve presented your claim, adjusters will review and verify your submission. It is possible you may be required to sign an agreement before payment is issued. We are committed to getting cases resolved as quickly as possible.

The emergency funding is designed to address a critical need for cleaning, water removal and sanitizing for properties affected by the September 10, 2020 flash flood event.  It not intended to cover lost personal property items. We strongly suggest you seek assistance from your homeowner's insurance.

The District of Columbia Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency and the Mayor's Office of Community Relations are canvassing impacted neighborhoods to gather information about the scope of resident damage. They encourage residents who have not yet completed a damage survey to complete it as soon as possible. You can find the link here: https://arcg.is/WSmrr.

Eligibility for the backwater valve reimbursement program is based on the location of your property and a review of the sewer system in your area including flooding and backup history.

To determine the eligibility of your property, please contact Emanuel Briggs at Emanuel.briggs@dcwater.com or call Customer Care at 202-354-3600 (8 AM – 5 PM Monday thru Friday).

Customers are asked to submit the following:

  1. Property address
  2. Statement that you are inquiring whether your property is eligible for the Backwater Valve Rebate Program
  3. Written history or summary of sewage backups you’ve experienced at your property (please attach photos and videos if available)

We recommend you seek immediate relief from your homeowner’s insurance to assist with limiting further property damage.  Residents who wish to may file a claim for damages by visiting the DC Water website at www.dcwater.com/claims or call 202-787-2050 for information regarding the claims process and what to expect.

Once claims are reported via the DC Water website, they are then reported to the DC Water’s Third Party Claims Administrator (TPA) to set up a claim. The TPA typically contacts customers within 24 business hours to start the claims process. Given the unusual claims volume, it is difficult to guarantee a call or turnaround time. The TPA is tasked with properly evaluating all that is submitted.  Customers may call the company directly to ask any questions they may have regarding their specific claim. Unfortunately, there is large number of flash flood related claims that will impact the normal processing time. Claims must be properly reviewed and validated before payment is issued.  We are committed to getting cases resolved within 4-6 weeks.  

Given the unusual claim volume, it is difficult to guarantee a payment or turnaround time. The TPA is tasked with properly evaluating all that’s submitted.  Customers may call the company directly at (888) 476-2669 to ask any questions you may have regarding a specific claim. Claims must be properly reviewed and validated before payment is issued.  We are committed to getting cases resolved within 4-6 weeks.  

For questions related to the impact of this event, please reach out to Barbara Mitchell in DC Water’s Office of Government & Legal Affairs.  Ms. Mitchell can be reached at barbara.mitchell@dcwater.com and 202-320-5299. You may also visit the DC Water Risk Management website at www.dcwater.com/claims or call 202-787-2050 for questions regarding the claims process and what to expect.