Boil-Water Advisory in Some Northeast D.C. Neighborhoods Lifted

WASHINGTON INFORMER: Residents and businesses in several Northeast D.C. neighborhoods no longer need to boil their drinking water as of 8 a.m. Wednesday morning. Testing confirmed that the water quality met safety standards and contamination had not occurred, DC Water said.

Map of the affected area by DC Water
Map of the affected area by DC Water

The three-day advisory, which affected more than 3,400 DC Water customers in Fort Lincoln, Woodridge and Langdon, followed a loss of water pressure in the system on Sunday evening, agency representative Pamela Mooring said. 

DC Water recommends that residents in the previously affected area follow these steps now that the advisory has been lifted:

  • Run the cold water taps for 10 minutes (if water was not used at all during the advisory).
  • Discard food or ice prepared with water that was not boiled during the advisory. 
  • Consult the owner’s manual to find out how to sanitize appliances and home filtration systems if used during the advisory. 

Residents can search for their address using this map to find out if their home was in the affected area. Generally, DC Water says the affected area was east of Montana Avenue, west of Eastern Avenue, south of Rhode Island Avenue and north of New York Avenue. 

Water utilities issue boil water advisories when something happens that means they can no longer guarantee the water quality for a period of time. Boiling water kills bacteria, though it doesn’t help with all contaminants (lead in water, for example, does not boil off). DC Water has issued two other boil water advisories over the last five years—once in 2019 and once in 2021.

Sunday’s loss of water pressure stemmed from a water main break on V Street NE between 33rd Street NE and South Dakota Avenue, alongside issues with two separate valves nearby. In a press release Tuesday, the utility said that the three problems “created an unanticipated chain of events” that led to the loss of water pressure in the area. 

“Each of these in and of themselves would not have caused the pressure to drop, but all of them together led to a drop in system pressure,” Mooring said. 

The water system typically maintains high water pressure, which means that if a break occurs, water will gush out, preventing bacteria from entering the pipes, Mooring explained. When water pressure drops, there is a possibility that bacteria will form and contaminate the water.

“If there was bacteria at the site of the break, then it could get in, but there’s no indication that that happened,” Mooring said.

DC Water ran tests on the water sampled from five locations on Monday and Tuesday, concluding early Wednesday that the advisory could be lifted. 

Residents notified DC Water of problems with their water pressure on Twitter and through the utility’s command center phone line Sunday evening. The utility fixed the water main break overnight Sunday and completed repairs Tuesday on a valve on the 3400 block of Commodore Joshua Barney Drive NE. 

Mooring said DC Water has “stepped up” its efforts in recent years to replace water mains throughout the District in order to prevent similar outages and water quality incidents.  

“Being an older city, we have older infrastructure,” Mooring said.

Photo: DC Water advised residents in several Northeast neighborhoods Sunday evening to boil their tap water for at least one minute and let cool before drinking or cooking with it. (Kayla Benjamin/The Washington Informer)

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