Water service was shut off or severely curtailed for thousands of people in parts of upper Northwest Washington last night after a problem occurred at a pumping station.

The area affected included much of the District's northern half on the east side of Rock Creek Park, according to interviews with residents, who began calling city government operators about 7:30 p.m.

Peter LaPorte, director of the city's emergency operations center, said the problem at the pumping station, in the 300 block of Bryant Street NW, had been corrected by about 10 p.m.

A spokeswoman for the city's water and sewer agency said she understood that a pump had shut down but was restarted.

Calvin Woodhouse, of the 5200 block of New Hampshire Avenue NW, said the water had been "real low and real slow, kind of like a trickle." He said he planned to shower last night with the available water, because he feared that none would be left by morning.

A woman who lives on Piney Branch Road NW said her son went to a nearby supermarket to buy bottled water after the service stopped.

One resident of the District's Takoma neighborhood said his first response was to look for his bill-paying records, to see whether he was current.