Earlier in the month a series of floods wreaked havoc on the Bloomingdale neighborhood in D.C. It was the result of a variety of factors, including weather, geography and out-of-date infrastructure. In short, when it rains really hard and really quickly, water flows downhill into Bloomingdale, but there’s not enough sewer capacity to carry it away.
The solution? A multi-billion (with a B) dollar project by the water utility to install a sewer tunnel from Bloomingdale to the water-treatment plant on the other side of town (among a handful of other things).
This is not the kind of “sexy” infrastructure project that typically gets a lot of attention. The Silver Line to Dulles is an expensive project that a lot of people have an opinion on. Capital Bikeshare is a much less expensive project that gets a lot of attention. But a storm sewer? It’s hard to get people excited about that.
It’s probably nonetheless one of the most important infrastructure projects in the city. It’s a reminder that when cities get old, things need to be replaced and upgraded. Infrastructure is durable, but it doesn’t last forever. When it works like it should, nobody really notices. But when it fails, and people have to suffer through multiple floods in a month - that’s when people actually start to notice.
Rob Pitingolo blogs at Extraordinary Observations. The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.