Drink the Water, But Don't Go Swimming Yet

Raw sewage dumped into local rivers, streams

At the height of Sandy, some overloaded sewage facilities dumped millions of gallons of raw sewage into local rivers and streams, and while leaders in the D.C. area are warning people to stay out of the region's swollen rivers and creeks, they insist the drinking water is safe.

On Washington's East Potomac Park, flooding forced parts of the roadway to be closed. Boaters daring to be on the Potomac River risk damage from tons of floating debris.

And raw sewage dumped from overloaded sewage systems is polluting local rivers.

“Rather than having backup and overflows in neighborhoods, when the pipe fills, we allow by the design of the system overflows to the river,” said George Hawkins of DC Water.

In a 12-hour period in Howard County Tuesday, about 2 million gallons of raw sewage per hour was released into the waterway.

But our drinking water is OK.

“There are no problems with public drinking water in this region,” Hawkins said. “We have safe and adequate drinking supplies in the entire metropolitan area.”

On WTOP Radio, Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett and Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker also declared the drinking water safe.

D.C. is spending almost $3 billion in the coming years to better handle storm water and sewage, Hawkins said, but in the coming days, it’s best to stay out of local rivers and streams.

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