New D.C. Water Project to Improve Health of the Potomac River


Activity along K Street and Water Street on the Georgetown waterfront never seems to stop — whether people, bikes, cars or utility crews. 

This time, DC Water contractors are doing their part in the Clean Rivers Project, which is on the agenda for the Aug. 30 Georgetown-Burleith Advisory Neighborhood Commission Meeting.

DC Water has begun a project in Georgetown to provide the area with separate pipes for stormwater and for sewage. “Called sewer separation, it keeps stormwater from entering the combined sewer system, which can overflow during rain events due to the larger volume,” according to the utility.

Two weeks ago, DC Water sent out this notice:

“This notice is to inform you that construction is beginning at the 31st Street NW Project Site for the Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) Outfalls 025 and 026 Sewer Separation project. The work at this location includes installation of new sanitary sewers, storm water lines, manholes, sewer laterals, cleanouts, catch basins and relocation of existing watermain lines and is anticipated to be completed by Spring 2022.

“The attached notice provides information regarding traffic, pedestrian, parking and bicycle impacts anticipated to begin on or after the week of July 19, 2021 for the first three phases of work along K Street NW and 31st Street NW. The detours and closures described in this notice are expected to remain in place from July to October 2021, weather permitting. The work is being phased to minimize impacts to the community.”

The following is more information, from DC Water.

Sewer separation is just one component of the plan to mitigate combined sewer overflows to the Potomac River, and is part of the larger Clean Rivers Project that’s cleaning up all three waterways in the District.

In the Potomac River sewershed, DC Water will use a multifaceted approach to reduce combined sewer overflows (CSOs), which contribute harmful bacteria, trash and other pollutants to the river. In addition to constructing a tunnel, DC Water is using sewer separation to reduce overflows from two CSO outfalls.

Commenting on the project, DC Water CEO and General Manager David L. Gadis, said, “DC Water’s sewer separation project in Georgetown is an important step in improving the health of the Potomac River. When the Potomac River Tunnel is completed by 2030, these two projects will reduce combined sewer overflows to the river by 92 percent.”

The work includes installation of new sanitary sewers, storm water lines, manholes, sewer laterals, cleanouts and catch basins. DC Water will also relocate existing water mains at two sites along Wisconsin Avenue and 31st Street, NW. 

Additionally, the existing sewer regulator along the 48-inch Upper Potomac Interceptor will be modified. That work will take place on Water Street, NW, but all work is south of the C&O Canal. Construction begins this May and is slated for completion by September 2022.

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