Neighbors’ Email Complaints Force DC Water Action

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“Water is Life” is the motto of the District of Columbia’s Water and Sewer Authority, also known as DC Water. It certainly can be said that DC Water is a big part of life for the residents of Georgetown. With about 1,000 employees, the independent authority touches our lives every day, mostly in unseen ways — from a constant supply of clean water, an efficient, unobtrusive sewer system and workable fire hydrants everywhere.

But, at times, there are also daily interactions with DC Water construction projects that can disrupt Georgetowners’ quality of life, sometimes for months.

Recently a flurry of emails between homeowners on the 1200 block of Potomac Street NW and DC Water engineering and project outreach officials have come to the attention of The Georgetowner. Between June 27 and July 6, more than a dozen emails were sent to try to resolve escalating noise and cement-residue damage to cars and property in the area. A timeline of messages indicates the intensity of the issue:

At 9:51 a.m. on June 27, Raymond Kollock, public space analyst in DC Water’s Department of Engineering & Technical Services, sent an email to DC Water’s Manager of Communications for External Affairs Emanuel Briggs that he had received a phone call that morning from Seth Kirshenberg, a Potomac Street resident, regarding the 6:30 a.m. pre-permit-time spraying of concrete by a DC Water contractor around unprotected trees and cars. At 10:43 a.m., Willis answered that he was looking into it, asked for photos and apologized for the inconvenience.

At 11:29 a.m., Kirshenberg added additional woes caused by the toxic cement dust on and in homes and cars. At 12:26 p.m., Briggs related a phone conversation with resident Charlene King about more problems with noise and dust. At 12:36 and 1:45 p.m., Georgetown Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners Lisa Palmer and Rick Murphy responded; at 1:40 p.m., Briggs informed them that he was a scheduling a meeting of parties to discuss it. At 5:30 p.m., Briggs sent a long email explaining the project, the protections and controls required. He announced DC Water was sending out a quality assurance representative, Kenneth Grover to monitor the site regularly. At 5:47 p.m., Margaret Heimbold suggested that the project be moved off the sidewalk and onto the street.

On July 6 at 8:58 a.m., Ed Straw of Potomac Street wrote Briggs: “Please stop this unsafe madness now.” At 5:03 p.m., Briggs responded with a long email addressing all the concerns. At 5:25 p.m., Straw replied: “The improvements are saluted, but the worst news is that the project is to be delayed another two months.” Straw suggested some moves that could be made and ended, “Please do not force us to take legal action.”

At press time on July 11, no updates were received. But at least everyone seems to be communicating.  The email contacts for Kollock and Biggs are: raymond.kollock@dcwater.com and Emanuel.Briggs@dcwater.com.

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