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Gurgling Noises

The banging pipes and the gassy sounds are the return of liquid after a dry day and evening, welcome noises in houses where people get cranky without running, reliable water.

Earlier, the scene at Safeway was almost reminiscent of a snow forecast, with the shelves cleaned out of water and, oddly, milk.

The pictures on TV of the water gushing from under Chain Bridge down into the Potomac were dramatic, like a waterfall magically cascading from the bridge's roadbed. There was talk of bringing out a road inspector to check the bridge before reopening it to traffic, but somehow the bridge simply opened up and the cars handled the testing themselves.

Conflicting reports on the tube about whether to boil your water now; Arlington County, which activated its emergency center and sent out a series of advisories to residents, recommended boiling water if you had been without it for a chunk of today. The District issued no such warning; best I can tell, District officials didn't say a thing. There's not necessarily any contradiction there, but there's no unanimity of advice, either.

One of the TV channels reported that there were only 600 D.C. residents without water. That's way off--the outage area stretched at least from Friendship Heights to Cleveland Park and from parts of the Palisades to American University Park.

With no official information in the offing, we're brushing our teeth with bottled water. If nothing else, we'll at least prove that we are members of a decadent society that has long since lost the capacity to embrace the elements and stand tall in the face of adversity.

By Marc Fisher |  March 12, 2006; 11:38 PM ET
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Marc, thanks for keeping us up to date on this (and amused). I laughed when I read your earlier comments on the state of the Safeway. What is the attraction of milk in these situations anyway?

Posted by: Ryan | March 13, 2006 12:13 AM


Relieves ulcers caused by waiting for hours on the WASA emergency hot line? Lawn care? Smells better than chemicals in the water system?

Posted by: Fisher | March 13, 2006 12:17 AM

Hey, Marc

I forget: When a 36" water main burst at 13th and Fl Avenues NW this past year and left thousands of DC residents without water, while at the same time creating a traffic-snarling geyser and washing out part of the roadway, did you write a story about it?

How much ink was spilled when said main took many weeks to fix because parts had to be ordered from Texas?

On the other hand, I'm sure you wrote some type of story about how residents of DC are only now being advised that at least some DC water now meets federal health standards, and they may not have to worry about cryptosporidium or lead or whatever...

Posted by: Mark | March 13, 2006 10:38 AM

Yes, indeed, we covered that with a lengthy story by the Post's Petula Dvorak, June 30, 2005, including photos with these captions:

Workers survey the damage created by a break in a two-foot watermain at 13th Street and FloridaAvenueNW in May that disrupted service to five area hospitals and tens of thousands of residential customers. Workers respond to a massive early-morning watermain break on May 21 that disrupted service in the Adams Morgan area.Workers are still repairing a massive watermain break at 13th Street and FloridaAvenue that occurred in May

Posted by: Fisher | March 13, 2006 3:42 PM

Hi, Marc-

Sorry I directed the question you just answered to you- I shouldn't have. I wasn't being fair.

Behind that mis-directed question was my frustration at apparently varying expectations of what constitutes acceptable levels of health, safety, and city services in different areas of the city. My sense is that similar events that happen in, say Dupont and "Columbia Heights East", will receive very different media coverage and, perhaps therefor, different government response. But, given the context and focus of your column, I probably shouldn't be pointing my finger (so strongly) at you.

My apologies.

Posted by: Re Post story | March 13, 2006 4:55 PM

Thanks--my sense from 20 years of covering the city is that our reporters and editors are generally more eager to report on events in less affluent parts of town. That doesn't mean we don't occasionally miss stories, even big stories, and it also doesn't mean we always get the story right. But reporters are usually in this game to hold the power structure accountable, and there are generally more opportunities to do that in more needy places.

Posted by: Fisher | March 13, 2006 11:16 PM

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