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Bloomingdale and LeDroit Park: The Northeast Boundary Protection Program

Historical flooding

The Bloomingdale and LeDroit Park neighborhoods were developed at the turn of the last century when sewage systems were in their infancy. Combined sewer systems were the convention. But combining three factors — population growth, the city lines extending north of Boundary Road and the unique low-lying topography— the sewer system is simply too small to accommodate the area today.

Generally, in extreme rainstorms, combined runoff and sewage spills into local waterways rather than backing up onto streets and in homes. But in these low-lying neighborhoods, flooding and basement back-ups occur during the most intense rain storms. Ultimately, the Clean Rivers Project tunnels will solve the problem by storing the combined sewage and then slowly releasing it into the sewer system. But that project completion is still a decade away, and residents needed relief sooner.

Mayor's Task Force identifies solutions

The Mayor's Task Force on the Prevention of Flooding in Bloomingdale and LeDroit Park was formed in September 2012. The group worked quickly and submitted a final report in December 2012 which included 25 recommendations to mitigate flooding in these neighborhoods. These include short-, medium- and long-term solutions in the following categories:

  • Engineering Components
  • Regulatory Components
  • Code Revision Components
  • Operation and Maintenance Components
See all 25 recommendations here.

Short term

District agencies are coordinating on several programs providing home engineering consultations and flood proofing; rebates for backwater valves to prevent sewage from backing up into basements; and a rain barrel and green infrastructure program to absorb rainwater before it gets into the stormwater and sewer systems.

Medium term

DC Water is implementing significant engineering projects in the medium term, though they are a slight departure from the original report. Originally, the plan called for transforming two cells of the abandoned sand filtration facilities at McMillan Reservoir to capture six million gallons of stormwater before it could enter the combined sewer system. These are underground, concrete storage facilities that were once used to filter drinking water and would hold the stormwater during intense rains. When the rains subside, and there is enough space in the pipes, this stormwater would be fed back into the District's sewer system and be conveyed to Blue Plains to be treated. But, after further investigation, it was determined that several hospital centers that were deemed to have separate sewers in fact have combined sewer systems. Since only stormwater and not sewage is to be stored in these cells, only one cell will be used. Its capacity will be increased and additional capacity will be added by 2014 through bioretention cells (raingardens) and in-line storage on First Street.

The second installation will serve the same purpose and store an additional eight million gallons of stormwater. This is a tunnel to be built under First Street, NW, running from Rhode Island and First Street, to the southwest corner of the McMillan site. When construction is complete in 2016, this tunnel (called the First Street Tunnel) will hold stormwater during intense rainstorms, after which a temporary pumping station will deliver the stormwater up into the sewer system to be treated at Blue Plains. In 2022, the tunnel will connnect to the DC Water Clean River Project tunnels and the pump station removed.

The revised plan is compared here to the original, showing the total storage to be the same in 2016 as originally anticipated.

Long term

DC Water began construction on the massive $2.6 billion Clean Rivers Project in 2011 to build large storage tunnels from Blue Plains all the way up to the Northeast Boundary district. The Authority is changing the alignment of the system to provide better drainage for the affected area. DC Water has also accelerated project plans to reach this area sooner than originally scheduled, so that in 2022 the tunnel system to the south will meet up and tie into the First Street tunnel. At that time the lift station can be removed as drainage will be achieved through gravity. For more information on the Clean Rivers Project click here: http://www.dcwater.com/cleanrivers


View Bloomingdale and LeDroit Park in a larger map

This map represents the general boundaries of DC Water's focus on flooding in Bloomingdale and LeDroit Park. Not all properties within the boundaries are subject to flooding, and some flood-prone properties may lie outside of the map. Please contact us if your Bloomingdale or LeDroit Park property has had a sewer backup or flooding and is outside of the boundaries.

Short-Term Mitigation

Medium-Term Mitigation

Long-Term Mitigation

Community updates

  • On February 24, 2014, DC Water attended the monthly meeting of the Bloomingdale Civic Association to provide an update on the schedule of work for the First Street Tunnel project. Updates on other area DC Water projects were also given during the meeting.
  • DC Water will be forming a community forum with interested residents as a way to discuss and keep DC Water informed of quality of life issues during First Street Tunnel construction. The kick-off First Street Tunnel Forum meeting was held on February 20, 2014. To view the presentation given during the meeting, click here.
  • As part of ongoing outreach efforts in support of the First Street Tunnel Project, DC Water will again hold a series of public meetings with residents in the blocks which will be directly affected by the project construction. To view the schedule for the public meetings, please click here.
    • January 7 - Presentation on construction impacts near the McMillan Sand Filtration Site (Channing Street Mining Shaft). To view the presentation, click here.
    • January 14 - Presentation on construction impacts at First and V Streets. To view the presentation, click here.
    • January 23- Presentation on construction impacts at Flagler Place and Adams Streets.To view the presentation, click here.
    • January 27 - Presentation on construction impacts at First and Thomas Streets.To view the presentation, click here.
    • During the meetings, DC Water's contracor will introduce an innovative ground freezing technology to help improve ground condtions in advance of the First Street Tunnel construction. To view a quick video on "Ground Freezing", click here.
  • Concurrently, DC Water is continuing its pre-construction field investigation work in the Bloomingdale neighborhood in support of the Tunnel construction. These activities primarily include a total of 8 new site borings that will each be drilled at a depth of 150-200 feet below ground to further assess local soil conditions. To view the schedule for field investigation work, please click here.
  • On December 9, 2013, the Office of Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie hosted a public meeting with DC Water, Pepco, Washington Gas, DDOT and DC Department of Health to discuss updates on DC Water's First Street Tunnel Project and current utility relocation projects in the Bloomingdale community in conjunction with the upcoming First Street Tunnel construction. To view a copy of the presentation given by DC Water, please click here.
  • On September 16, 2013 and September 17, 2013 DC Water attended the Bloomingdale Civic Association and ANC 5E monthly meetings to provide updates on its McMillan Stormwater Storage Project. To view a copy of the presentation given to the Bloomingdale Civic Association, click here. To view a copy of the presentation given to ANC 5E, click here.
  • Following the April 24 public meeting in support of the Environmental Assessment phase of the First Street Tunnel portion of the Clean Rivers Project and May 7 meeting with many residents in the 2200 block of Flagler Place, NW to discuss the Environmental Assessment, DC Water has carefully reviewed many of the public comments received and has also taken these into consideration during further review of the design for the project.

    As next steps, DC Water has implemented an aggressive outreach program to area stakeholders to share updates on the First Street Tunnel Project:
    • June 17 - Briefing to Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie (to view the presentation, click here)
    • June 17 - Presentation during the monthly meeting of the Bloomingdale Civic Association (to view the presentation, click here)
    • June 18 - Presentation during the monthly meeting of ANC 5E (to view the presentation, click here)
    • June 19 - Block meeting with residents at Flagler Place NW/Adams Street NW (to view the presentation, click here)
    • June 25 - Block meeting with residents at V Street NW (to view the presentation, click here)
    • June 26 - Block meeting with residents at Thomas Street NW (to view the presentation, click here)
    • July 1 - Presentation during the monthly meeting of the Stronghold Civic Association (to view the presentation, click here)
  • On Tuesday, May 7, 2013 DC Water held a meeting with residents in the 2200 block of Flagler Place, N.W. to further discuss impacts of the First Street Tunnel project. Due to inclement weather, the meeting was moved to the Bryant Street Pumping Station. DC Water will be visiting the 2200 block of Flagler Place, N.W. to meet with residents who were unable to attend the initial meeting, followed by site meetings with residents in neighboring blocks over the coming weeks, and details on these meetings will be forthcoming. To view the presentation given at the meeting, please click here For a list of "Frequently Asked Questions," also provided during the meeting, please click here
  • On April 24, 2013, DC Water held a public meeting to share updates on the First Street Tunnel portion of the Clean Rivers Project and to receive public comments on the Environmental Assessment phase of the work. To view a copy of the Environmental Assessment, please click here To provide comments on the Environmental Assessment, please click here To view the boards presented during the meeting, check here
  • DC Water attended the January 28, 2013 monthly meeting of the Bloomingdale Civic Association to discuss the final report of the Mayor's Task Force on the Prevention of Flooding in Bloomingdale and LeDroit Park and its recommendations. To view a copy of the presentation, click here.
  • December 6, 2012
  • November 30, 2012
  • DC Water provided a briefing on the Northeast Boundary portion of the Clean Rivers Project to Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie on November 28, 2013. A similar briefing was provided during the Special Joint Meeting of the Bloomingdale Civic Association and ANC Single-Member Districts 5C04 and 5C07 on December 13. To view a copy of the presentation, click here.
  • October 5, 2012
  • September 18, 2012
  • September 4, 2012
  • August 24, 2012
  • August 10, 2012

How to reach us

If you have a water or sewer emergency, including a backup or flood to report, please call (202) 612-3400 at anytime.

For general questions about flooding in Bloomingdale or LeDroit Park, please call (202) 787-2688 or email bloomingdale@dcwater.com.

Frequently Asked Questions

Additional resources

Other Agencies

Previous engineering studies

What We Do