Gray pushes for flooding fix in D.C.'s Ward 5

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Local,DC,Alan Blinder

With the permanent solution to repeated flooding in Bloomingdale and LeDroit Park more than a decade away, District leaders on Tuesday moved to begin developing stopgap measures to stem future disasters.

Although a 13-mile tunnel is in the works to help control storm water, the project is not scheduled for completion until 2025. But in the midst of a summer that included three major floods in a 10-day stretch, Mayor Vincent Gray said he wants a much quicker fix.

"I don't believe -- and I'm sure the residents don't believe -- that we should ask people to wait while we simply do nothing, waiting for that solution to be completed," Gray said.

Gray ordered a new task force to submit recommendations to combat flooding by Dec. 31.

"This has to happen soon. Answers have to happen soon. The relief has to happen soon," said Ward 5 D.C. Councilman Kenyan McDuffie. "The residents of Bloomingdale and LeDroit Park clearly are going through hardships right now, and they're looking toward their government to provide the relief that they need."

The D.C. Water and Sewer Authority has blamed aging infrastructure for the repeated floods and expects the new tunnel below the Anacostia River to become the crisis' permanent antidote. Alan Heymann, the agency's spokesman, acknowledged that the timeline for the tunnel would not help residents already in need of help.

"If your basement is flooding in 2012, it's not a major consolation that there's a solution on the way in 2025," Heymann said.

Heymann said D.C. Water engineers are scrambling to devise short-term solutions, especially as they review new video footage of the 90,000 linear feet of sewers in the two neighborhoods. He declined to detail what officials had learned, but he said they had found "some interesting things down there" and would release their findings soon.

"It's just unreal to have to be scared of rain, to have to be scared because it's cloudy outside," said Teri Janine Quinn, president of the Bloomingdale Civic Association.

ablinder@washingtonexaminer.com

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