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The Northeast Boundary Neighborhood Protection Project

Photo of Community Tour of First Street Tunnel


The Northeast Boundary Neighborhood Protection Project was launched in 2012 to address historical flooding issues in Bloomingdale and LeDroit Park. This multi-step effort will reduce the pressure on the undersized section of the Northeast Boundary Trunk Sewer that serves these neighborhoods by:

  • Adding 3 million gallons of stormwater storage from a stormwater line that runs east of the McMillan site, using existing and new facilities on the site itself. (Completed: Spring 2014)
  • Installing bioretention at 15 sites along the Irving Street NW corridor between Michigan Avenue and North Capitol Street to capture, infiltrate and treat stormwater runoff before it enters the sewer system. (Completed: Spring 2014)
  • Adding 8 million gallons of stormwater and wastewater storage from a combined-sewer line that runs west of the Washington Aqueduct McMillan treatment plant, in a new tunnel under First Street NW. (Completed October 2016)
  • Re-aligning the Northeast Boundary section of the Clean Rivers Project, to make it more effective in preventing flooding and require tunneling under less private property, and accelerating construction of this section. (Estimated completion: 2023)

Mayor's Task Force

This project is the largest and most visible work product of the Mayor's Task Force on the Prevention of Flooding in Bloomingdale and LeDroit Park, co-chaired by DC Water General Manager George Hawkins and then City Administrator Allen Lew. Mayor Vincent C. Gray convened the task force in August 2012, and its final report was issued in December 2012.

The report 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 Mitigation

District agencies have collaborated 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. Some of these programs have been completed, while others are still offered today including:

Medium-Term Mitigation

DC Water implemented significant engineering projects in the medium term. This effort included transforming one cell of the abandoned sand filtration facilities at McMillan Reservoir to capture three million gallons of stormwater before it can enter the combined sewer system. This underground, concrete storage facility was once used to filter drinking water. Now it is capable of holding stormwater during intense rains. When the rains subside, and there is enough space in the pipes, this stormwater is fed back into the District's sewer system and conveyed to Blue Plains to be treated.

We were able to get additonal storage capacity by adding bioretention cells (rain gardens) on Irving Street, NW and by using in-line storage under First Street, NW. Both of those projects were completed in 2014.

The second installation will serve the same purpose and store an additional eight million gallons of stormwater. This is a tunnel built under First Street, NW, running from Rhode Island and First Street, to the southwest corner of the McMillan site. Construction was complete in 2016 and 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 2023, the tunnel will connect to the DC Clean River Project tunnels and the pump station will be removed.

Long-Term Mitigation

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 2023 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.

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 any time.

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