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Storm and Flooding on September 10, 2020

On Thursday, September 10, 2020, a surprisingly intense storm dumped almost three inches of stormwater on the District in a two hour period. The impact on the city's sewer infrastructure was immediate. Sewer and stormwater pumps throughout the system were pushed to their maximum pumping limit and within 25 minutes the new Anacostia Tunnel System filled to capacity (100 million gallons). The flow to the Blue Plains plant spiked and our new wet weather treatment facility was pressed into service. It too quickly reached capacity.

In the heart of the city, the existing sewers performed as designed but simply could not handle the amount of stormwater generated by the storm. Even the First Street Tunnel, which was built to mitigate historic flooding issues in Bloomingdale and LeDroit Park and can hold up to 8 million gallons of stormwater, filled to the top and overflowed.

Photo from Neighborhood Walkthrough
CEO David Gadis and Mayor Muriel Bowser meet with residents

On Saturday, September 12, CEO and General Manager David L. Gadis joined Mayor Bowser for a tour of some of the hardest hit neighborhoods and met with residents who were impacted by the flooding and suffered damage to their properties. Mr. Gadis immediately pledged to expand DC Water's Backwater Valve Rebate Program that was previously offered to residents of Bloomingdale and LeDroit Park. For more information about the expansion of the program and how to apply, click here.

Community Town Hall

Mr. Gadis met with residents again in a Virtual Town Hall meeting on Wednesday, September 16. Thank you to everyone who participated.

To see the presentation from the meeting, click here.

Emergency Clean-up Relief

DC Water recognizes significant hardships experienced by DC residents because of the unexpected flooding event: 

  • Impacts of COVID-19 on our community
  • Heightened public health concerns
  • Significant number of impacted homes

​DC Water is committing $1.5 million for clean-up relief for those who need immediate relief and have been unable to dewater their property

  • Dewatering, cleaning and sanitizing with a per property limit of $5,000
  • ​DC Water will pay the company directly for these services

To schedule service, please contact one of the following companies beginning at 9:00 am on September 17, 2020:

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).

Frequently Asked Questions

We know many residents have questions about the flooding. We have tried to provide answers to to some of the most commonly asked question and posted them here. The FAQ document has also been distributed door to door in some of the impaced neighborhoods.

Additional Resources

The District Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking (DISB) has insurance tips and other useful information on its website, including:

Insurance tips for homeowners and renters
Hidden Benefits of your homeowners insurance policy
It is important to maintain your homeowners insurance
DISB Consumer Guide: Flood insurance
Five reminders about your insurance coverage
After Storm Sandy, five reminders about your insurance coverage

A Historic Problem

The District inherited a very old system from the federal government and DC Water is working to modernize and expand the sewer and pump station infrastructure every year. The greatest investment is the Clean Rivers Project which is steadily reducing flooding incidents and combined sewer overflows to the Anacostia and Potomac Rivers and Rock Creek. 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. Again, both tunnels filled to capacity during the September 10 storm.

Currently, DC Water is building the Northeast Boundary Tunnel which will add 90 million of additional capacity for combined sewage. The NEBT will help reduce overflows to the Anacostia River and provide additional flooding relief for low-lying neighborhoods. When it is completed in 2023 the tunnel will bring the capacity of the system up to a 15 year storm. Please click on the links for more information about the NEBT and the Clean Rivers Project.

Despite the added capacity of the tunnels, it is important to note that flooding is still possible in very heavy rainstorms and homeowners should consider purchasing flood insurance.