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DISTRICT BRIEFING

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

WATER AUTHORITY

River Pipe That Leaked Sewage Is Patched

The leakage of raw sewage into the Anacostia River was stopped yesterday after two eight-inch holes in a pipe were covered and, as a precaution, portable pumps were placed at the construction site where the leak occurred, a D.C. Water and Sewer Authority official said.

John Dunn, WASA's chief engineer and its deputy general manager, said a diver discovered that a contractor had accidentally drilled two holes through the top and bottom of a pipe. The concrete line is about seven feet below the surface of the river, Dunn said.

The construction is part of a $50 million project near the O Street Pumping Station and the Main Pumping Station, he said. The work, designed to stabilize the river wall, will continue for another month.

Dunn said the amount of sewage that leaked did not pose a threat to residents. "A thimbleful is not good, but I don't think there was any public health hazard," he said.

It was not evident why the contractor drilled through the pipe, Dunn said, but "clearly, he made a mistake." WASA installed a sleeve, or round piece of pipe, to stop the leak.

"We have no reason to think it won't work," Dunn said.

The line that was affected feeds into one of three larger lines that carry sewage across the Anacostia River en route to the Blue Plains treatment plant.

-- Yolanda Woodlee

D.C. COUNCIL

Agencies Ordered to Team Up to Fix Hydrants

The D.C. Council approved emergency legislation yesterday that gives the D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department and the Water and Sewer Authority 30 days to develop a plan for repairing fire hydrants whose poor maintenance hurt firefighting in major blazes this year.

The legislation requires WASA and the fire department to work together to remedy problems with hydrants and water pressure.

Council member Yvette M. Alexander (D-Ward 7) introduced the resolution and was joined by sponsors Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4), Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) and Phil Mendelson (D-At Large) in designating the legislation a response to an emergency.

They noted how broken hydrants hindered efforts to fight the blaze that destroyed the Georgetown public library in April and how inadequate water pressure at a hydrant contributed to damage at an Adams Morgan condominium building this month.

The fire department and WASA, a quasi-public agency, have been at odds over which of them should test and maintain hydrants. "There's no more pointing fingers. They have to work, and it has to be a team effort," Alexander said. "It's time to take responsibility. It's a public safety issue."

-- Nikita Stewart

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