DC Water is following up on the city’s promise to help residents whose homes were flooded with raw sewage during historic storms last week by offering a rebate program to protect properties from future backups.
Residents of Edgewood and Riggs Park were among those pleading for assistance after watching geysers of raw sewage shoot from basement drains when record rainfall drenched the city on Thursday.
Now, the city will allow residents from neighborhoods that experienced severe flooding during the Sept. 10 storms to apply for a backwater valve rebate.
The program allows residents to get a refund of up to $6,000 to help cover the cost of installing a backwater valve, a device that only allows water to flow out of a building. If it works properly, the valve would stop wastewater from getting pushed from city pipes into a home, DC Water says.
The work must be carried out by a licensed master plumber who gets proper permits from the city. Here’s more information and a link to the application.
The cost of installing a backwater valve varies depending on a home's specific needs, including whether floors must be excavated. Review website Angie's List estimates the project might cost $500 to $1,000.
During what DC Water described as “100-year-storms” on Thursday, the District’s sewer system was overwhelmed by a large volume of stormwater but “performed as designed.”
Mayor Muriel Bowser visited affected homes over the weekend. Edgewood residents told News4 they received no promises for immediate disaster relief but were told to file claims with DC Water.
Residents were dismayed that they were on the hook for the urgent expense of cleaning up the raw sewage. Some said their insurance already refused to cover it and wanted the city to provide immediate relief.
“We don’t have time to mess around,” one impacted resident said. “This is raw sewage. We have mere days to act, to get it out of our homes.”
“COVID is already a concern. Now, we have feces stored in the wood, carpets, walls. You can’t scrub that away. Bleach is not going to fix that,” said another resident who says she’s lived in Edgewood for 12 years.