Back to the topic of Bloomingdale flooding and the newly announced DC Water backflow preventer program:
From a Bloomingdale resident:
I hope you are all doing well and staying dry!
I wanted to bring everyone's attention to some troubling details in the upcoming backflow preventer rebate program. I think DC Water is pulling a fast one on us yet again
1.) Work needs to have been performed by a DC licensed master plumber
2.) Plumbing permits are required (this is not clear from their announcement yet, but subsequent exchanges have confirmed)
3.) DCRA will need to inspect the work and issue a report/approval (this is not clear from their announcement yet, but subsequent exchanges have confirmed)
I've talked to quite a few neighbors who installed backflow preventers soon after the flooding (and prior to announcement of the details of the program) and no one I spoke with will meet these criteria.
1.) It doesn't make sense to have to wait for a permit from DCRA to do emergency work resulting from the failure of city infrastructure (where is the "all hands on deck" effort here? What is the social value of getting such a permit?).
2.) Having a licensed plumber do the work would cost a lot more than getting a general contractor to do so - the estimates in our home were in the $7000 range rather than $3000 for a general contractor so the choice was obvious. Our neighbors all made the same, obvious judgement call of using the lowest bidder to perform the work at the quickest possible opportunity. Even if we knew the requirements up front, paying more for the licensed plumber would wipe out any benefit from the rebate. Installing the valve itself is very straightforward - the bulk of the work for installation is the excavation and repairs of concrete, flooring, etc., which is the purview of a general contractor, not a plumber. The licensed plumber requirement only increases the cost, but adds little to no value
3.) If my past experience is any guide, DCRA inspections take months to get scheduled and the outcome is completely arbitrary depending on which inspector happens to be assigned
Given all we've been through at the hands of DC Water, I don't think it's too much to ask for them to at least make the rebate program accessible. They're already successfully using the program as a distraction/appeasement to avoid addressing the underlying issue so the least they could do is make sure it's actually useful to the affected residents.
I've already registered my concerns with DC Water's Ledroit/Bloomingdale "hotline" (voicemail), but I think it would be good if others can do the same (possibly by email so there is wider coverage and can't claim they didn't know). They never respond to me by email so perhaps some other voices would be better received :)
Councilman McDuffie and Councilman Graham (copied on this message) - grateful if you could follow up with DC Water and DCRA on your end. The official details of the plan have not yet been released so there is still time to remove these onerous conditions which will exclude many homeowners from eligibility.