Dealing with Flooding in Bloomingdale

Photo by PoPville resident SG

Thanks to all who sent links to the new page by DC Water:

“The flooding events of July 2012 are evidence of a change in the Bloomingdale neighborhood since DC Water last extensively surveyed the area in 2006. The permanent, long-term solution is the Clean Rivers Project, scheduled for 2025. In the meantime, our Bloomingdale Action Agenda is a list of specific steps DC Water, residents and businesses, and other parts of the government are taking and can take to reduce the effects of runoff and flooding.”

DC Water also wrote in an email:

“We have already begun implementing what I call our Bloomingdale Action Agenda,” commented DC Water General Manager George S. Hawkins. “This is a list of specific steps DC Water, residents and businesses, and other parts of the government are taking and can take to reduce the effects of runoff and flooding.”

In addition, DC Water and Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie are in communication about coordinating a multi-entity examination of this problem. District and federal agencies with jurisdiction over streets and alleys, stormwater management, plumbing codes, insurance and flood plains, and residents, all have a part in this discussion.

DC Water will also attend a special meeting of the Bloomingdale Civic Association on Saturday, August 4 at St. George’s Episcopal Church, 160 U Street, NW in the basement.

Another reader sends a note from Teri Janine Quinn, President, Bloomingdale Civic Association:

We met with DC Water during the Bloomingdale Civic Association held this past Monday. Many residents were underwhelmed by DC Water’s presentation. We agreed to host a second public meeting with DC Water on Saturday, August 4th (time and location to be determined). It is troubling to know that many residents just experienced flooding for the third time in less than two weeks. It has become painfully obvious that we cannot wait indefinitely for solution.

As an initial matter, we need to get a better understanding of how many residents have been impacted and the scope of the damage. These questions were asked of DC Water during our meeting but the representatives were unable to provide clear and concise responses and have not since followed up with additional data. Even if DC Water provides information regarding the impact and scope of the damage, unless we assess the problem on our own we will have no way of evaluating the accuracy of their data. As such, Please find below a link to a brief survey (10 questions) for residents who have experienced flooding. You do not need to complete the survey if you have not experienced flooding. In addition, we only need one survey completed per address. The information we collect will be useful in discussions with DC Water and elected officials. As such, if you have experienced flooding recently or in past years, please complete the survey as soon as possible but not later than Wednesday, July 25th. Here’s the link to the survey:

Bloomingdale/LeDroit Park Flooding Survey

9 Comment

  • This really isn’t going to get better any time sooner. All WASA can do is regularly (and by regularly I mean weekly) monitor and clean out the catch basins to prevent minor blockages and allow the full throughput capacity of the current system until it can be expanded. People sometimes forget that there is an actual creek flowing under this neighborhood south from roughly the Soldiers Home (Tiber Creek). Development paved over it, but it’s still there and it part of the drainage system. Hundreds of years ago the area where 1st St hits the RI Ave “valley” in Bloomingdale was a natural catch basin. What happens when torrential rains hit streams in undeveloped areas? Sometimes they overflow their banks. In this case the creek’s “banks” are the bits where it intersects with the sewer system. That water has to find a way out, and it’s only exits are the drains in people’s basements and the manholes/sewer grates in the streets.

    We are uphill in Bloomingdale from the problems areas (several blocks towards McMillan), and right after the bad rains last Wednesday there was evidence of water backing up into our main stack for a few minutes. That’s dozens of vertical feet from the real flooding areas. Although there could have also been a blockage further upstream on our block, if not that is some SERIOUS back pressure from the bottleneck downstream.

    • the creek is not the problem. it is channeled off in a large tunnel. it was simply “paved over” it was diverted and has a special tunnel.

      the problem is blockages.
      the problem is a combined sewer-stormwater system.
      the problem is the connections from homes to the main sewer lines.

      all problems that are the responsibility of dc water.
      have they catalogued all the problems?
      no. thats the first step. they don’t even know exactly where all the problems are.

      • The creek isn’t *the* problem, but it’s part of the problem. If that branch of the creek were to be diverted a mile uphill so it drained elsewhere, don’t you think that would help the situation at 1st and RI at all? There are a lot of factors contributing here.

        DCWASA is in a shitty place with this. They need to be extra vigilant on cleaning out the feeders in this neighborhood for the next, oh, 12 years or so when the real solution is in place. And there will probably still be flooding during big storms. Not much you can do with an outdated system ill-suited for current usage.

  • This is pretty much impossible to fix, short of some multi-billion dollar project by the Army Corps of Engineers. The best solution would be to declare the area a floodplain and compensate those who wish to move to a place that is less vulnerable to flooding.

    • there is a project going on. there is a tunnel being built from blue plains to this area.

      • It’s actually four tunnels that will be used to store excess stormwater/sewage until it can be sent to Blue Plains for treatment. It’s a $2.1 billion project that we’ll pay for over the next 20 years. A lot of cities have similar projects to address their combined sewer overflows. But yes, blockages are also the problem, such as tree roots that get into the pipes and grease from restaurants that don’t properly or regularly clean out their grease traps.

  • The city should provide some sort of financial assistance to homeowners to install backflow preventers (for those of us who are experiencing flooding through our toilets and drains), as that is a clear case of infrastructure failure. Improvements to deal with surface flooding–where it is identified as infrastructure failure–should also be included.

    This can take the form of direct payments, tax credits, or reductions in water bills. It will be cheaper in the long run than lawsuits and insurance claims.

  • thebear

    There was a similar problem 10 years ago over in East Dupont (Corcoran, New Hampshire, R, Riggs). WASA eventually redid the whole drainage system in the area and as far as I know it has been alleviated. Have DCWater look into the cause/remedy of that problem and it probably is the same or at least very similar to what is happening in Bloomingdale.

  • The biggest issue I have as a resident of the area, is that given the initial flooding that occurred and the pending rains that were in the forecast for the days following, the city did not issue sandbags until AFTER the 3rd flood. Seems to me that if they knew there was a problem and it had not been resolved, that they could have/should have been more proactive in issuing the sandbags.

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