DC Water investigating Possible Sanitary Sewer Overflow in C and O Canal National Historical Park

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Date: May 16, 2014
Contact: John Lisle, DC Water, 202-812-5006
Contact: Jennifer Anzelmo-Sarles, National Park Service, 202-619-7400

DC Water is investigating a possible Sanitary Sewer Overflow (SSO) overnight in C & O Canal National Historical Park. An SSO occurs when diluted untreated wastewater spills or overflows, and can be caused by excessive rainfall. Due to the overflow, the Capital Crescent Trail is closed to the public between Water Street in Georgetown and Fletcher’s Cove. The National Park Service recommends using the C&O Canal Tow Path as an alternate route in this location, but cautions that portions of the Tow Path prone to flooding may be closed farther upstream.  Water levels are expected to peakSaturdayafternoon.

In coordination with the National Park Service and U.S. Park Police, DC Water is cordoning off the affected areas and the public is reminded to respect these public health and safety closures. Untreated sewage can contain many pathogens causing a variety of illnesses ranging from e-coli to hepatitis. If people come in contact with the untreated overflow they risk getting sick and bringing these pathogens into their homes.

It is important to note that DC Water’s drinking water system is separate from the wastewater system and is NOT affected by the overflows. DC Water’s intake valves are on the Potomac River at Great Falls and Little Falls, far north of the District.

DC Water has mobilized repair crews and contractors and will take immediate action to decontaminate impacted areas of the Park. In addition, the Authority is investigating to determine the cause for this and a prior overflow on April 30.

With nearly 1,800 miles of sewer lines throughout its service area, DC Water appreciates notification from the public if a sewer back up is suspected. Please call the 24-hour Emergency Command Center at 202-612-3400 at any time to report water or sewer emergencies in the District of Columbia. More information on the sewer system can be found atdcwater.com.

DC Water is committed to protecting the health of the public and the environment. The Clean Rivers Project is a $2.6 billion long-term project to add capacity to the combined sewer system and reduce combined sewer overflows. In addition, the project’s enormous storage tunnels may also alleviate some SSOs.

Last updated: April 10, 2015

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