Oof – The Do Not Drink Advisory remains in effect until further notice for increased area in parts of Shaw/Logan

UPDATE 2:45pm:

MPD: “Bottled water is being distributed in front of Garrison Elementary School, located at 1200 S Street NW.”

UPDATE: Frequently Asked Questions released by DC Water:

Do Not Drink FAQ (PDF)

From DC Water:

The Do Not Drink Advisory remains in effect until further notice. DC Water crews flushed an expanded area of the distribution system last night and into this morning in an attempt to clean the system. The Authority is conducting further testing.

DC Water, EPA, DDOE and other DC agencies continue to work together to investigate. DC Water is asking the public to contact the Authority at 202-612-3400 if they are aware of any potential petroleum leaks in the area.

Water will be available for customers affected by the Advisory until further notice. Customers should bring water containers, such as reusable water bottles or other large water receptacles to the Quench Buggy, which is located at O Street, NW between 6th and 7th Street today.

IMPORTANT: The impact area changed slightly as of 6:30 pm last night. Customers in the additional area were notified door-to-door last night. The map will be updated as the investigation better defines the affected area.

Current directional boundaries are as follows:
South — Q St. NW and Rhode Island Ave. NW
East — New Jersey Ave NW
West — 13th St. NW
North — S St. NW (between 9th St. NW and 13th St. NW) and T St. NW (between 7th St. NW and 9th St. NW) and Florida Ave NW (between 7th St. and New Jersey Ave. NW)

Customers in other areas of the District of Columbia are not affected and can continue to use their water as usual. DC Water advises customers in the impact area to use bottled water for drinking and cooking until testing confirms that the water is safe. To minimize any health risk, follow the instructions outlined below:

Do not use tap water for:
• Drinking
• Preparing and cooking food, including washing fruits and vegetables
• Preparing infant formula
• Brushing teeth
• Making ice and washing dishes
• Giving water to pets
• Taking showers and baths
**Skin and eye irritations may occur if water is used for bathing and other hygiene activities.

Continue to use water for:
• Washing clothes
• Flushing the toilet
• Watering plants

DC Water is reaching out to additional agencies for support and is escalating the investigation. We apologize for the inconvenience and appreciate our customer’s patience as we take necessary precautions to protect public health. The Authority also asks that anyone with knowledge about a building or activity in the area that may be leaking a heavy oil compound, to contact DC Water’s Command Center at 202-612-3400.

If you notice a petroleum smell from your drinking water, please do not consume the water and do not use it for bathing or other hygiene activities. If you have specific health concerns or experience any unexpected symptoms of illness, contact your healthcare provider immediately.

The advisory began on Wednesday, December 17, 2014, after DC Water received reports of a petroleum-type smell in the drinking water in a portion of northwest DC.

Customers will be notified immediately when the advisory is lifted.

Share this information with everyone who drinks or uses this water, especially those who may not receive this notice directly (for example, people in apartments, nursing homes, schools, and businesses).

For more information, visit www.dcwater.com or contact DC Water Customer Service at 202-354-3600 or the 24-Hour Command Center at 202-612-3400.”

49 Comment

  • Mug of Glop

    This whole ordeal is becoming real fun. I’ll probably have a good comparison of all my friends’ showers by the end of the weekend. DC Water has not provided any more information than what’s above – not the actual chemical in the water, nor at what concentration, nor at which locations the water was contaminated. They appear not to know from where the contamination has originated. They have no public plan but “let’s try to flush it again and see what happens”. It took them eight hours to release even the vaguest description of the results of lab tests yesterday. Luckily, I’m a scientist, so I don’t have to look particularly good for work, but my wine-and-bourbon-only fluid intake at home is probably gonna get pretty sloppy pretty fast.

    • They said it was petroleum in the water.

      • Mug of Glop

        Well, they’ve alternately used the terms “petroleum”, “petroleum-related chemicals”, and “oily substance”. Petroleum is a pretty large class of chemicals, and knowing what it is specifically in terms of molecular weight, viscosity, additives, aqueous solubility, and other chemical attributes would let us know what sort of hazards it poses to health and property.

    • You are absolutely correct. We’re closing in on 48 hours of this advisory and the fact that DC Water is either unwilling or unable to describe the exact pollutant by now is infuriating.

  • This is crazy. I’m not in the affected area (yet), but it’s getting too close for comfort. I’m just across Florida Ave at the new expanded area. More concerning even than the fact that this has occurred and has not yet been resolved is that DC Water does not seem to be working around the clock to try to resolve this as soon as possible. Their website and other communications do not provide much detail or additional updates other than “don’t drink or use the water until further notice”. They are sure to mention that they are closing early on Christmas Eve, though. Will that go as planned even if this is not resolved by then? Are they working over the weekends to address it? If they are, they should be communicating this much more to their customers.

    Also – their social media team seems to be getting a kick out of how this is impacting their customers.. Unacceptable. http://washington.cbslocal.com/2014/12/18/after-do-not-drink-advisory-d-c-water-teases-customer-about-showering-on-twitter/

    • That Twitter exchange is “unacceptable”? That was an exchange with someone clearly making the most of a bad situation. To say that Twitter was somehow taunting or getting a kick out of the customers’ situation is quite off the mark.

      • You had to have read something different right?
        The DC water rep who suggested buying febreeze and beer and that the other customers should “deal with it” needs to be sacked. Completely unprofessional.

    • Emmaleigh504

      I don’t see anything wrong with the Twitter exchange. I didn’t see any teasing or enjoyment of their customers’ lack of water. They were just trying to lighten the mood.

      • I like DC Water’s social outreach efforts, generally speaking — the Brookland manhole cover YouTube video was -great-. But I don’t think DC Water is properly acknowledging how inconvenient this situation is, how dangerous it could be, and how the very fact that we don’t know a lot about the contaminant or its spread can make people scared. Tweets that make light of these things seem off-pitch. The agency’s social media efforts are cute and charming in other contexts, but not here.

        • Emmaleigh504

          What else could they do in twitter? I prefer funny/charming replies than boring, “we are looking into it” replies. That’s pretty much the only other option here. We know they are looking into resolving the situation, let the twitter person try to lift some spirits with a silly joke.

          • Hey, sorry Emilie — I meant to reply to the OP, but it’s okay with me if we have different opinions on this. I live one block from the affected area and to be honest, I’m annoyed that they could lighten the mood in this set of tweets, but didn’t respond to my tweet and several similar ones asking how confident we can be that the borders won’t shift again. Between my post-surgery lifting limitations and my husband’s flu, my household is ill equipped to lug bottled water around and won’t do it unless someone tells us it’s actually dangerous. But it’s possible that we’re drinking and bathing in water with carcinogens it. I’m frustrated with the situation and don’t think it’s a good time for jokes. /end rant

          • Emmaleigh504

            I’m sorry you and everyone else have to go through this and they haven’t been able to fix it yet. No water b/c of contamination sucks ass.

      • Mug of Glop

        I don’t know, I thought it was a pretty funny tweet at the time. In the context of this is still happening with no end in sight, the humor is not so much anymore appreciated. And, to be fair, they’ve stopped making jokes in light of the fact that they themselves are in fact turning into a joke.

        • Very good point. I didn’t realize that this exchange was written before day 2 and the expansion of the known affected area.

    • Looks like a pretty funny twitter exchange to me. Definitely acceptable.

  • I agree DC Water (and, perhaps, the city) should be communicating more information to residents. I am surprised because I feel like DC Water’s outreach is usually pretty good. Yes, I am well aware of the First Street Tunnel project and all that has come with it.

    In any event, not only am I curious as to what is causing the problem, but also I am curious as to the source, if that information is known. That is, why is only this marked off zone the issue? Is there a unique distribution pipe feeding that part of the neighborhood? Is the contamination happening at the epicenter of that zone? Are there multiple sources? Is there a chance the zone may spread wider?

  • This is really concerning. If anyone knows about the contaminants that were left in the water supply for literally decades at the Marine base, Camp Lejeune, you know that petroleum and other industrial pollutants can have serious consequences, particularly for infants, children, and the unborn. The military is now having to provide health care for any Marine or family member who stayed for more than one month on base between (I think) 1957 and 1985ish. I don’t think this situation would arise to that level, of course, but they really need to figure this out soon. In the case of the Marines, I don’t think their water was noticeably smelly- but there was enough that it was exceeding EPA limits 2-3 times over what is considered healthy. I hope this doesn’t spread, and I hope it is fixed- even when the petroleum smell dissipates.

    • I completely agree. Just because you can’t smell it doesn’t mean it’s improved, really. Ugh. I am trying really hard not to worry about this (we’re a few blocks from the zone). My brita probably isn’t enough for my kiddo. Maybe we need a big bottle.

      • Mug of Glop

        Brita makes no claims to being able to remove anything but lead, chlorine, copper, and mercury, at least that I can find on a cursory examination of their website. So, it probably wouldn’t do anything for any organic compounds such as this “petroleum” that has supposedly been found.

      • The DC Water FAQ says that filters aren’t going to remove “certain types of chemical

  • Mr. Wash did it.

    On a serious note, my nephews are going to school a few blocks from the grid. I’m just waiting for their mom to call me to ask me to pick them up.

  • This is really starting to freak me out. I live in this area and all I can think of is how long has it been in the water? Are we just “lucky” that the two neighbors smelled it and alerted DC Water? I never smelled anything, but that doesn’t mean much. I agree with everyone else that we need WAY better communication from DC water about what’s going on. Ugh.

    • yeah that’s pretty frightening. I live just outside of the zone, and I started on bottled water just in case.

  • I live across the street from the impacted area, on Florida Ave, and haven’t noticed any weird smells in my water. Crossing my fingers this does not spread!

  • I’m not in the affected area but find this quite disturbing as I have noticed an off smell coming from faucets in my home from time to time. i’m sure it’s not the same thing but makes me wonder how reliably DC Water is managing the public supply. Does anyone if I feasibly could / how to get my water tested?

    • I believe the original bad smell came from algae blooms in the water supply which are smelly but not harmful.

      Maybe contact DC water, but anywhere that sells water treatment stuff may also have water testers if they’re available to the public?

    • Amazon has quite a few test kits but I have no idea which would be best for this situation. I showered at my work gym today but i don’t know if it’s available over the weekend. So far this has been annoying but not that big of a deal. if we go for much longer though then the inability to wash dishes and clothes will become more and more of a pain. I guess i will pick up more bottled water tonight – or use the empty containers to fill up at 6th and O.

  • Without knowing any of the facts, I’m going to blame fracking.

  • I was just at the CVS on U Street next to the Metro entrance. They are completely sold out of water, multiple residents came into the store inquiring about it. Apparently all the major shops on U Street are sold out. Which is terrible for any of the locals – especially the “old timers” – who don’t have cars.
    If you have a car and are buying water outside the immediately affected area, please ask your neighbors if they also need water! The older man I saw in CVS was quite distressed that they were sold out, he had stopped at multiple shops in the area looking for water 🙁

  • Can I ask a stupid question? How do they know it’s only in that area? I mean, it’s water. Are they able to close off mains or something to “quarantine” the contaminated stuff? Why wouldn’t this be all over the city? Does that mean whatever is seeping into the water is located in this zone? (I know nothing about public utilities. I’m seriously asking.)

    • I Dont Get It

      My question also, is this area served by a specific network of pipes?

    • A bunch of people, including me, have asked DC Water this on Twitter, and they haven’t replied. It’s not in the new FAQ either (http:// www. dcwater.com/news/factsheet/pdfs/DoNotDrink_FAQ.pdf) I suspect they really don’t know for sure and don’t want to speculate. Which scares me a whole lot.

    • My guess is that they have isolated the affected network of pipes. DC Water hasn’t been all too forthcoming with more information, however. (For instance, how long has this been a problem before they realized/caught on?) I too live nearby and I’m concerned that I may be affected as well. I can easily imagine why DC Water is staying quiet, however, as they don’t want to be sued, but that’s hardly fair to the citizens/consumers.

    • They’re now replying in a guarded way: https:// twitter .com/dcwater/status/545982846364811264

  • It’s been frustrating. I live 1/2 block away from the blue zone but not taking any chances. The blue area has already been expanded twice. So far have been managing okay but not sure how long we can keep up with this…

    • Yeah, I bought several 3 gallon jugs because of that. Might want to start stocking up… I don’t trust the marked zone.

      • It seems from these comments that the people freaking out the most are those that aren’t even in the affected area. I am smack in the middle of the area affected and I did expect this to be fixed by now and only bought one small jug of water yesterday. If all the area stores are indeed out of bottled water then I will take an Uber or zipcar out of the area to get some water. It’s definitely frustrating but also manageable for now. This should be a good lesson to all of us that we should have some basic preparedness (not TV style prepping necessarily) in the event of emergencies – water, food, batteries, etc. The next ’emergency’ could easily affect a much larger area of the city and could last for a longer time than 2 days…..

        • I understand your frustration ShawShank. I am not “freaking out” but yes I am concerned because I am only meters away from the zone and honestly the reaction so far from DCWater does not instill the least bit of confidence that these borders are not fluid (no pun intended). While they claim it is safe to drink I am refraining for now. They don’t even really know the extent, source, or even the type of contamination outside from a “petroleum-based product” or what the health effects may be.

          My household includes someone with health issues and we can’t risk it. I don’t think that is freaking out or overreacting. Yes I understand it is most difficult for those clearly in the zone but I think you know you need to stock up. I feel bad if I am buying up all this water I don’t “really need” when there are really those that definitely need it. I am well aware there are those severely affected such as yourself but I think there are many people who are rightfully confused.

          I did have a few emergency gallons but it goes really quick. I would love to have my doomsday storage room all stocked up but unfortunately I wish I had the space.

          • I’m with you, Mous. It was especially unnerving to be *just* outside the zone with no guarantee that the boundaries won’t shift. At least ShawShank knew for sure that s/he shouldn’t use the water. We didn’t have that certainty.

          • ‘freaking out’ might have been a little harsh – and by all means prepare yourself. I don’t think it is that difficult to get water and you can even get it for free from dcwater at 6th and O. For me the drinking aspect is the least of my worries. It will become more of an inconvenience when I eventually need to do some laundry or wash dishes that i cooked with using bottled water. I also would like to be able to bathe at home over the weekend. That said, these are for now minor inconveniences and has me thinking about what it would be like if something akin to katrina in New orleans or Sandy in new york happened here (be it a natural or man made disaster).

          • The advisory is claiming that it’s OK to do laundry with the affected water… but I for one would not want water that might or might not have some kind of petroleum products in it to come anywhere near my clothes. That just sounds like a recipe for weird stains (and possible fires in the dryer).

  • FYI Uber is delivering free water to affected residents via uberEssentials. Not my fave people but it is a nice gesture.

  • looks like the ban has been lifted. There are instructions on how to flush your pipes. Not altogether encouraging that they still aren’t saying the cause.

Comments are closed.