(Updated at 6 p.m.) The relentless rain soaking Arlington is prompting some serious flooding in the Waverly Hills neighborhood, and now people living there are pressing the county for help.
Tom Reich, a longtime homeowner in the area, told ARLnow that many of his neighbors along the 4000 block of 18th Street N. experienced serious flooding starting two weeks ago, on May 22. He also sent along the above video, showing water reaching high enough to partially submerge some cars parked on 18th Street N. and carry away some recycling bins.
“Many houses had their garages, basements, and cars flooded, sustaining many thousands of dollars in damage,” Reich wrote in an email.
Reich added that similar floods have plagued the neighborhood several times over the years — in 2001, 2003, 2006 and 2013 — and the Waverly Hills Civic Association convened a meeting on May 31 with county officials to address the problem. Reich says many residents urged the county to construct stormwater management improvements, but they didn’t get much in the way of good news on that front.
“The upshot was that the county told us our need is real and acute, but the money is not currently there in the capital budget to execute the projects,” Reich wrote. “Needless to say, the Waverly Hills residents are now in the beginning stage of a campaign to highlight the threat to our homes presented by the county’s failure to act on its own plan.”
Reich points out that a variety of projects designed to manage flooding in the Spout Run watershed, where the neighborhood is located, have gone unfunded in recent years.
The county’s Capital Improvement Plan passed ahead of fiscal year 2013 included funding for four different sewer projects in the area — but Reich says those were never completed and the next CIP, passed by the County Board two years later, includes no mention of them.
County Manager Mark Schwartz’s proposed CIP, which details construction projects running from fiscal year 2019 through 2028, also includes some funding for stormwater management in other parts of the county, but Reich and his neighbors are frustrated that the spending plan doesn’t call for more construction around Waverly Hills.
Staff with the county’s Department of Environmental Services completed preliminary work on the projects Reich referenced after the 2006 flooding, according to county spokeswoman Jennifer Smith. Yet she says that work “identified significant challenges and costs to upgrade the system, as the current system traverses more than a dozen private properties.”
DES spokeswoman Katie O’Brien adding that the county is “still pursuing” those projects, yet noted that “technical challenges and funding remain an issue.”
Schwartz has certainly warned of the county’s fiscal challenges as he’s unveiled this year’s construction plan, thanks to Arlington’s increasing obligations to fund the Metro system and shrinking commercial tax revenues.
However, Smith would caution that “while greater capacity in the storm sewer would alleviate flooding concerns, there is no system which can guarantee elimination of flood risk to flood-prone properties.”
Video via YouTube
The County Board is set to approve a construction contract that would install the final “missing link” of sidewalk along Old Dominion Drive.
Sidewalk installation would run along the eastbound side of Old Dominion Drive, between N. Thomas Street and Fire Station No. 3. The fire station is approximately 440 feet from Military Road.
Proposed sidewalk enhancements include “ADA curb ramps, crosswalks, and provisions for future streetlights.”
This is the last section of sidewalk installed on Old Dominion Drive east of 37th Street N. County documents note that the project has been coordinated with the nearby Stratford School Project.
Tree removal along Old Dominion Road began earlier this year in anticipation of sidewalk construction.
The County Manager’s office has recommended approving the $789,324 contract to the Capitol Heights, Md.-based Sagres Construction Corporation.
UPDATE: The sewage line leak into Donaldson Run was stopped overnight with a bypass installation. Pipe repairs continue. Photo shows the remote location of the leak, adjacent to Zachary Taylor Park. pic.twitter.com/OcLdVOcjCz
— Arlington DES (@ArlingtonDES) November 14, 2017
Workers from the county’s Department of Environmental Services stopped a sewage leak into the Donaldson Run stream overnight.
According to a tweet from DES, crews installed a bypass overnight into a sewage pipe, which broke due to its age, damage from tree roots and the recent cold temperatures.
Repairs to the pipe, which is in a remote location next to Zachary Taylor Park (2900 Military Road), are ongoing.
A DES spokesman said that the remote location made the leak hard to find, but that staff had been aware since last weekend.
“[S]taff did log the leak report over the weekend and the search began soon thereafter,” the spokesman said. “It just took a while for crews to find the leak because of the remote location — which you can see on the tweet photo.”
The spokesman reiterated that the “discharge that entered Donaldson Run will be diminished by natural flushing of the stream over time.”
A broken sewer pipe caused a sewage leak into the Donaldson Run stream, affecting the water in two parks in Arlington County.
A spokesman for the county’s Department of Environmental Services said a resident reported discharge of sewage into the stream in Zachary Taylor Park (2900 Military Road) this morning.
On further inspection, the spokesman said, DES crews found that a sewage pipe had broken due to its age, damage from tree roots and the recent cold temperatures. Crews plan to repair it tomorrow (Tuesday), the spokesman added.
Those in the area should avoid contact with the water in the stream in Zachary Taylor Park downstream from N. Upshur Street, and also in the nearby Potomac Overlook Regional Park (2845 Marcey Road).
“The discharge that entered Donaldson Run will be diminished by natural flushing of the stream over time,” the spokesman said.
Both parks will remain open to the public.
Image via Google Maps
Lost Dog Reunited With Owner — A dog that disappeared under mysterious circumstances is back at home this morning, her owner says, after the man who picked her up as she was wandering around North Arlington saw a sign with the dog’s photo and dialed the phone number on it. [Facebook]
County Lauded for Digital Prowess — Arlington has been named one of the “top 5 counties for digital government” by StateTech magazine. The county was lauded for “embracing open data and transparency” in decision making and citizen outreach. [StateTech]
Death at Belvedere Condos — A man reportedly jumped to his death at the Belvedere Condominiums near Rosslyn on Friday. The complex’s pool and pool deck were closed Friday as police investigated the incident.
Priest Who Admitted KKK Past Still Venerated Confederacy — A priest in the Catholic Diocese of Arlington might not have been totally forthcoming when he admitted and renounced his KKK activity as a young man. Even after becoming a priest, in the early 2000s, Rev. William Aitcheson “was a ‘fervent advocate of the Confederacy’ who would joke about ‘Saint Robert E. Lee’ in homilies at the church,” one former student of his recalled. [Washington Post, Washington Post]
Nearby: Two Men Jump From Aqueduct Bridge — One man is dead and another in grave condition after both jumped from the Aqueduct Bridge in Georgetown, near the Key Bridge, into the Potomac River. A friend of the men said they were hanging out on the bridge when one decided to jump, then the other jumped in to save him. Boats and and a helicopter were used as part of the subsequent rescue operation. [NBC Washington]
A method of repairing water pipes, utilized by Arlington County, could be exposing residents and workers to health risks, according to new research.
A report out of Purdue University in Indiana found that the procedure, called cured-in-place pipe repair (CIPP), can emit harmful chemicals into the air, which sometimes are visible as plumes of smoke. Those nearby could then be exposed.
The research found evidence of hazardous air pollutants — chemicals that disrupt the body’s endocrine system and can cause tumors, birth defects and other developmental disorders.
Arlington uses CIPP, also known as pipe relining, to fix sanitary sewer pipes. It involves inserting a fabric tube filled with resin into a damaged pipe and curing it in place with hot water, pressurized steam, or sometimes with ultraviolet light. The result is a new plastic pipe manufactured inside the damaged one that is just as strong.
There have been several reported instances of the odors produced by the relining work prompting calls to the Arlington County Fire Department. Last year ACFD’s hazmat team responded to a Chinese restaurant in Falls Church after reports of an “unusual odor in the bathroom,” which was later determined to have been caused by relining work. In 2010, “numerous” residents of a North Arlington neighborhood called to report “a pervasive chemical odor,” also during relining work.
Andrew Whelton, an assistant professor in Purdue University’s Lyles School of Civil Engineering and the Environmental and Ecological Engineering program, led a team of researchers who conducted a study at seven steam-cured CIPP installations in Indiana and California.
“CIPP is the most popular water-pipe rehabilitation technology in the United States,” Whelton said in a statement. “Short- and long-term health impacts caused by chemical mixture exposures should be immediately investigated. Workers are a vulnerable population, and understanding exposures and health impacts to the general public is also needed.”
A spokeswoman for the county’s Department of Environmental Services said in an email that staff stays up to date on new research about its repair methods.
“The County is committed to ensuring the safety of its residents, workers and contractors,” spokeswoman Jessica Baxter wrote in an email. “CIPP (Cured-in-place pipe) is a national industry practice that is performed throughout the country and world to reline pipes. As new studies and findings come to light, the industry and the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety will need to determine if additional protection mitigation steps are needed — and we, as well as our contractors, will monitor this for any needed changes.”
Researchers said workers must better protect themselves from any harmful chemicals that are emitted, and local health officials must conduct full investigations when they receive reports of unusual odors or illnesses near CIPP sites. Baxter said the county already provides plenty of information to residents near such work.
“When the County plans work to reline a section of sanitary sewer pipe, residents whose homes are directly connected to the pipe receive a notice prior to the work explaining the process and how to prevent fumes from entering their homes,” Baxter said. “The County also has a list of recommendations for homeowners on our website.”
The county’s sewage plant is set for repairs after the Arlington County Board approved a five-year contract at its meeting on Saturday.
The Water Pollution Control Plant’s concrete tanks at 3402 S. Glebe Road, near the Aurora Highlands and Arlington Ridge neighborhoods, are struggling with structural deterioration. They will be repaired with grouting, coating, crack injection, or by other means by an on-call contractor during the five-year contract.
The plant has 60 concrete sewage channels and tanks that help treat the county’s wastewater, and — despite recent upgrades — some of the tanks are over 65 years old.
The contract has a set cost of $1.25 million, with an additional $125,000 set aside as a contingency. In recommending the plan, county staff said scheduling repairs ahead of time rather than doing them on an emergency basis will reduce costs and risk to construction workers.
The County Board approved the contract as part of its consent agenda at its meeting Saturday (July 15).
Wardian Wins Vegas Marathon Dressed Like Elvis — Not only did Arlington’s own marathoning superhero Michael Wardian, 42, win the Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Marathon over the weekend, but he did it while dressed like Elvis Presley. Wardian even set a world record for the fastest marathon while dressed like the King, at 2:38:04. [Las Vegas Review-Journal, Competitor]
Fox Rescued from Construction Pit — The Animal Welfare League of Arlington rescued a fox from a large pit at a construction site on Monday. The fox was cold and muddy but uninjured; it was released back to “a quiet patch of trees nearby.” [Facebook]
APS Accused of Poor Communication — Arlington Public Schools is “a great school district,” says Washington Post columnist Jay Mathews, but it has communicated “poorly” regarding the potential for middle schools to move to block scheduling. [Washington Post]
Reminder: Preventing Sewer Backups — Ahead of the holiday season, Arlington County is reminding residents to avoid sending fats, oils and grease down the drain. The “FOG” from cooking and cleaning can clog home sewer lines and lead to catastrophic sewage backups. [Arlington County]
I-395 Issues on Monday — I-395 in the District was briefly blocked by anti-Trump protesters yesterday afternoon, leading to some backups. Later, a multi-vehicle crash near the Route 1 exit in Arlington blocked multiple lanes during the evening rush hour. [Washington Post, Twitter]
Eleven homes on the 900 block of N. Daniel and Danville streets are connected to a failing sewer line that runs through their backyards. The line is believed to date back to the 1920s, when the first of the homes in the neighborhood were built.
As we reported in 2013, county workers had been clearing occasional blockages of the line, until the county determined that it did not actually own the line — it was privately constructed and the county had “no rights to operate or maintain this line.”
Facing steep plumbing and excavation costs for connecting to a public sewer line, homeowners threatened legal action. On Tuesday, the County Board settled the matter by voting unanimously to approve a compromise agreement with the homeowners.
Arlington will roughly split the cost of connecting all 11 homes — $253,980 plus a $50,000 contingency — and will advance the other half of the money to seven homeowners who asked for help financing the work. The seven homeowners will repay their share over seven years, at 2 percent interest, via the establishment of a “service district” that will levy a frontage assessment on their property.
Arlington County said the compromise was necessary because the private sewer line was failing and beyond repair, and a major sewage backup in the midst of a protracted legal dispute could have resulted in a significant public health hazard.
” The amount of time required to resolve the disagreement would delay the time when remedial action could be taken, thereby threatening the likelihood of a public health emergency, and would result in costly litigation for all involved,” notes the staff report. “In an effort to prevent further delay, the County and the property owners negotiated an agreement that would promptly address the looming public health concern.”
Cheap Gas in Arlington — Just in time for your Thanksgiving vacation, there are a number of gas stations in Arlington at which you can fill up for less than $2.00 per gallon. At $1.97 per gallon, the BP station at the corner of S. Four Mile Run Drive and Walter Reed Drive, pictured above, isn’t the lowest in the county: that honor belongs to Arlington Auto Service on Columbia Pike, with its $1.87 per gallon gas. [Gas Buddy]
County Warns of Sewer Backup Risk — One thing that could ruin your Thanksgiving feast would be a sewer backup. Arlington County is warning residents that that could happen if they’re not careful about disposing of fats, oils and greases (FOG). The proper ways to dispose of FOG is to empty it into a container, like an empty can, and throw it in the trash — not rinsing it down the drain, where it could cling to and clog pipes. [Arlington County]
Suspicious Package Calls Up Since Paris Attacks — Calls for suspicious packages and suspicious circumstances are up in Arlington since the Paris terror attacks. That’s according to Arlington County Police Chief Jay Farr, who spoke to reporter Pete Williams during a segment on last night’s NBC Nightly News broadcast. The county has set up an online form for reporting possible terrorism-related activity, in addition to receiving such calls via the police non-emergency line: 703-558-2222.
Airport Workers Rally for Higher Wages — As hordes of passengers head to Reagan National Airport for holiday travel, airport workers are going on a hunger strike, pushing for a living wage. Tipped workers at the airport, like baggage handlers and wheelchair attendants, make as little as $3.77 an hour. [WUSA 9]
Lopez Named House Minority Whip — Arlington’s Del. Alfonso Lopez has been named the new Minority Whip of the Virginia House of Delegates Democratic Caucus. In a statement, Lopez said we will continue to work for “our vision of a Commonwealth that prioritizes public education, invests in transit and transportation infrastructure, protects our environment, preserves our social safety net, and grows a new Virginia economy to expand opportunity for all Virginians.” [Patch]
Van Doren Running for Reelection — Arlington School Board member Nancy Van Doren has announced that she will be running for reelection in 2016. Van Doren replaced Noah Simon on the School Board after a special election last year. She will be seeking her first full term. [InsideNova]
Glencarlyn Park, Sewer Main Upgrades Approved — The Arlington County Board over the weekend unanimously approved a sewer main construction project for Old Dominion Drive. The Board also approved upgrades to Glencarlyn Park, including a rain garden, plaza and bicycle facilities. [Arlington County]
Arlington’s Per-Pupil Spending Tops Region — Arlington Public Schools spends $19,040 per student, the highest such figure of any Washington suburb. On a per-pupil basis, Arlington spends 24 percent more than Montgomery County schools, 41 percent more than Fairfax County schools and 84 percent more than Prince William County schools. [InsideNova]
Loan Approved for Senior Housing — On Saturday, the Arlington County Board unanimously approved a $1.35 million loan to help keep the Culpepper Gardens I apartment complex affordable. The complex include 204 committed affordable units for seniors. [Arlington County]
No New Westover Middle School? — The Arlington School Board has informally voted to remove the Reed School site in Westover from consideration as a potential location for a new middle school. Many residents have said they would rather see the building used for a neighborhood elementary school. [InsideNova]
Board Updates Green Building Incentives — The Arlington County Board voted 4-1 to require higher sustainability standards for its Green Building Incentive Program, which rewards developers for environmentally-sound building practices. [Arlington County]
Local Reporter Travels to Germany for Streetcar Story — WAMU reporter Michael Lee Pope traveled to Germany to report on the use of streetcars in Berlin, tying his findings back to Arlington’s proposed streetcar project. Streetcars run in formerly Communist-controlled East Berlin, but no longer in West Berlin. One interviewee said people ride East Berlin’s streetcars partially out of a sense of nostalgia and the “special feeling” one gets from riding them. [WAMU]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
Wizards Practice Facility in Arlington? — There’s a potential plan for a Washington Wizards basketball practice facility in Arlington, reports NBC4’s Mark Segraves. However, the more likely plan for the practice facility is for it to be built in D.C.’s Shaw neighborhood. Wizards owner Ted Leonsis also owns the Washington Capitals, which has a practice facility at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Ballston. [NBC Washington]
Arlington Warns of ‘Potential Severe Traffic’ — Arlington County is warning residents about “potential severe traffic” today due to the massive crowds expected for the Concert for Valor on the National Mall, along with Metrorail service changes and numerous road closures in D.C. that are in place for the Veterans Day event.
Cherrydale Abuzz Over Sound Check — The Cherrydale community email listserv was “going crazy with complaints about the sound check” for the Concert for Valor last night, a tipster tells ARLnow.com. We’re told the neighborhood could hear bass and feel vibrations from the sound check. “One person reported that the Arlington County police were getting so many calls they were telling people to call the D.C. police who then told people to call [U.S.] Park Police,” the tipster said.
Cost of Thanksgiving Dips in Va. — Virginia families will save about $5 per person this year on Thanksgiving dinner thanks to lower food prices, according to the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation. [InsideNova]
Lyon Park ‘Sewer Justice’ Petition — A group called Arlingtonians for Sewer Justice — which represents 11 Lyon Park households that are being compelled to pay $10,000-20,000 for a new sewer connection because the county says it will no longer maintain a failing, private sewer line behind their homes — has created a new petition. The petition, which has so far gathered 95 supporters, calls for Arlington County to pay for the upkeep of privately owned sewer lines via a bond referendum. [Change.org]
Flickr pool photo by Ian Livingston
The Board unanimously approved master plans on stormwater and water distribution on Saturday, which aim to maintain a clean water supply and reduce the risk of flooding.
“Arlington is committed to providing safe and reliable drinking water to our residents and ensuring that our community complies with environmental law and remains sustainable,” Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette said in a statement. “These plans will allow us to meet the demands of projected population growth and help restore the health of the Chesapeake Bay.”
About a third of the storm sewer system in the county needs additional capacity to reduce flooding risks, according to the county’s assessment. And a total of 11 miles of aging steel and terra cotta storm sewer pipes — some 87 years old — need to be replaced.
The average age of the county’s water mains is 55 years, Water, Sewer and Street Bureau Chief Harry Wang said earlier this year. Between Jan. 8 and Feb. 20 alone, the county had to perform 89 repairs on water mains — and average of 2.1 breaks per day, Wang said.
The approved plan estimates the capital cost per year for stormwater-related projects to increase from $2 million per year to $3.3 million per year, depending on what external regulations require.
Home construction is responsible for a spike in the amount of surfaces like streets, rooftops and sidewalks that can’t absorb runoff, the report said. “Single-family home projects accounted for the majority of pollutant load increases from development activity in the county during the time period studied [from July 2009 to July 2013],” the document said.
A deteriorating, 85-year-old sewage line that runs along the back of residents’ yards was determined, after “extensive research” by county staff, to be privately-owned — built as part of the original development on the block.
Though county workers have in the past cleared the line of blockages, that “cannot continue… because of the extent of deterioration and because the County has no rights to operate or maintain this line,” wrote Dave Hundelt, Arlington County’s Streets Manager, in a letter to a dozen impacted homeowners.
“This line is in failing condition and is beyond repair,” Hundelt wrote. “This is due to the age of the line, its state of deterioration and the physical obstructions that make replacement of this line impractical.”
Residents are being told that they’ll have to construct a lateral connection from their homes to the county-owned sewage lines that run along the street.
Such work typically varies in cost from $5,000 to $10,000, according to Kewin Greenhill, general manager of Ashton Heights-based All Plumbing, Inc. The least expensive option requires a trench to be dug across the homeowners’ front yard. The pricier option can be done less invasively, by use of a pneumatic mole.
If homeowners don’t install a new connection, “the consequences of a failed sewer line would make your home uninhabitable,” Hundelt wrote.
The County is holding a meeting with affected homeowners on Nov. 13 at Key Elementary School. Hundelt promised to arrange follow-up meetings as necessary.
One resident, who did not want to be identified by name, said she felt the county is “abandoning us” by so far not offering to pick up the tab.
“Are we really at the mercy of poor record-keeping on the part of the County after all these years?” she wrote on a neighborhood listsev. “Do we have any rights? Any expectation for financial help, especially those over 70 and on fixed incomes?”
The full letter from Hundelt, after the jump.
Photo via Google Maps
The County will hold a meeting on Wednesday November 13, 2013 from 7:00p.m. to 8:30p.m. at Key Elementary School, 2300 Key Blvd, in the library, to discuss the private sanitary sewer that runs along the back of your property line. This line is in failing condition and is beyond repair. This is due to the age of the line, its state of deterioration and the physical obstructions that make replacement of this line impractical. It cannot be expected to continue to provide reliable service and the consequences of a failed sewer line would make your home uninhabitable.
The sewer line, built approximately 85 years ago as part of the properties’ development in the 900 blocks of North Daniel Street and North Danville Street, is a private line and is failing. The County has periodically cleared the line of blockages so the properties served by it could continue to have sewer service. This cannot continue, however, because of the extent of deterioration and because the County has no rights to operate or maintain this line. The determination that this line is private was made after extensive research bv our Real Estate Bureau for easements and other documentation. As a result, you and other residents who are connected to this line will need to take the appropriate action necessary to construct a lateral connecting your home to the existing County-owned sanitary sewers located m both North Daniel Street and North Danville Street.
We strongly encourage you to attend the November 13th meeting where County staff will provide an overview of this situation, the current risks, and the steps required for you to construct a new lateral connecting your home to the County’s line in the street in front of your home. Because the relocation of laterals poses unique challenges for each property, County staff is willing to schedule individual follow-on meetings with the affected homeowners to answer additional questions.
Chief Operating Engineer
The Board unanimously approved the contracts at its meeting Saturday, funding the renovations to 10,000 linear feet of sewer in three areas: Ballston Pond, at Washington Blvd to Fairfax Drive, S. Eads Street and Army Navy Drive and S. Walter Reed Drive to Shirlington Road.
County staff recommended the new lining to add an estimated 50 years of life to the system, much of which was put in place before 1950s, and to protect the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
“This is a serious investment in critical infrastructure that we must make on a regular basis,” said County Board Chair Walter Tejada. “Maintaining our system will help to ensure that we can continue to serve Arlington’s growing population while protecting our environment.”
Alexandria and Fairfax County will also contribute funds to the system repairs. From the county press release:
Approximately 60 percent of the County’s sanitary sewer system was placed before the 1950s. As the system ages, pipes begin to corrode and cause sewer backups. The relining process will add another 50+ years to the existing infrastructure.
The contractor, AM-Liner East, Inc. will use the Cured-In-Place-Pipe (CIPP) relining method to rehabilitate this portion of the sewer system. This cost-effective, trenchless technology involves inserting a resin-impregnated felt liner similar to a sock into an existing sanitary sewer main and curing it using hot water or steam. Once complete, the new cured pipe renews the old sewer by providing a smooth channel.
As part of the Potomac Interceptor Project, Arlington County is evaluating and repairing manholes throughout the sewer system. These efforts will reduce the potential for water seeping into the sanitary sewer system, especially during storm events when excess water could overwhelm the water treatment plant and force a discharge of partially-treated sewage into Four Mile Run.