Remember the “petroleum-type smell that resulted in a Do Not Drink advisory” for part of Shaw/Logan? “The source of the contamination remains unknown”

From DC Water:

“DC Water continues to investigate the source of a petroleum-type smell that resulted in a Do Not Drink advisory for DC Water customers in an isolated area of Northwest Washington from December 17 – 19, 2014. The source of the contamination remains unknown. DC Water and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are in the process of analyzing water samples and reviewing information collected during the investigation.

DC Water continues to monitor the drinking water system in the previously affected area. Customers are encouraged to contact the Drinking Water Division at 202-612-3440 with any information about the incident. Additional details about the investigation and answers to common questions about the incident are provided below. DC Water will share findings once we conclude the investigation, and we thank our customers for their patience and cooperation as we work to resolve this issue.

The ongoing investigation includes the following actions:
– Inspection of cross-connections in the affected area. Cross-connections are connections between the drinking water distribution system and water systems that may contaminate or pollute the drinking water distribution system. Cross-Connections include building and home water systems used for heating, cooling, or industrial purposes. DC Plumbing Code requires backflow preventers on all cross connections and the DC Water Cross-Connection Control Program oversees the installation and annual inspection of testable backflow preventers. To learn more about the program or to see examples of backflow preventers, visit our cross-connection webpage (link provided below).
– Review of construction activity and utility work in the area. DC Water is investigating all activity in the area that could have resulted in the contamination of the drinking water system.
– Survey of underground fuel storage tanks in the vicinity. DC Water is coordinating with the District Department of the Environment (DDOE) to identify and inspect storage tanks for leaks. To review information about DDOE’s underground storage tank regulations, visit their website (link provided below).

Summary of DC Water actions during the incident:
– Collection and testing of water samples to monitor water quality in EPA laboratories.
– Public Notice and distribution of a Do Not Drink advisory to protect public health.
– Distribution of instructions for flushing premise plumbing.
– Coordination with EPA, DDOE, and DC Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency to mobilize resources and personnel during the incident.
– Communication with customers through updates and fact sheets.
– Deployment of water dispensing unit to distribute free water to affected customers.

Please see the interactive map at to review the boundaries of the previously affected area.

Customers with information about the incident or water quality questions should contact DC Water’s Drinking Water Division at 202-612-3440 (Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.). All other inquiries should be directed to DC Water Customer Service at 202-354-3600 (Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.) or the 24-Hour Command Center at 202-612-3400. Information is also available at”

4 Comment

  • Mug of Glop

    With, of course, still no information about what contaminant they actually found.

  • DC Water needs to test for petroleum leaks/pollution around the surrounding gas stations. It’s no secret that many underground tanks are leaking gas into the ground. This needs to change. If the city is unable to test and regulate this sort of pollution, then maybe we need to get the Feds involved.

    • Mug of Glop

      DC Water’s network is supposedly a closed system at positive pressure, so I don’t think that ground contamination will likely seep into the potable water supply. On the other hand, the District Department of the Environment absolutely should be doing that sort of testing.

    • If I recall the original maps, the northern/northeastern boundary of the affected area was around Fla and 8th or 9th. Right about where there are 3 (4?) large construction sites that probably tie into the city water system on a daily basis for their needs. Draw a line from the Bryant St pumping station and through that intersection. The affected areas were mostly “downstream” of that wrt the water supply originating at Bryant, yes? Seems to me where I would look first for a culprit.

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