Tuesday, December 11, 2012

DC Water General Manager George Hawkins responds to property damage claim denials; brief reply from our Bloomingdale Florida Avenue NW resident

From: Emanuel D. Briggs <Emanuel.Briggs@dcwater.com>
Sent: Tuesday, December 11, 2012 9:26 AM
Subject: RE: DC WATER/WASA Property Damage Claim Denial
Dear Customers,
We have received a number of questions in the past few days about the property damage claims DC Water received in the wake of the four storm events this past summer.
Our sewer inspections found no blockages or defects that would account for a neighborhood-wide flooding or sewer backup event. Instead, as we have stated often, the section of the Northeast Boundary Trunk Sewer that serves the low-lying Bloomingdale and LeDroit Park neighborhoods does not have the capacity to handle brief but extremely intense rainfall events such as the four in July and September.
Our third-party claims adjudicator uses a negligence standard to determine liability. To be liable, DC Water must actively and negligently commit an act that causes property damage to a claimant, or must have notice that property damage is likely to occur, have the obligation and ability to prevent it in time, and fail to do so. Neither was the case in the events of this past summer.
In its November meeting, the DC Water Board of Directors explicitly and unanimously stated that I do not have the discretion as General Manager to change our liability policy – or DC law.
We remain focused on our main task for the Northeast Boundary Trunk Sewer, which is upgrading the infrastructure to add more capacity and help prevent overland flooding and sewer backups. This effort involves more than $700 million in capital expenses, some new details of which we announced Friday as part of our Northeast Boundary Neighborhood Protection Project.
The first pieces of this project will come online early in 2014. In the meantime, I strongly recommend taking advantage of our backflow preventer rebate and contacting your insurance company to make sure your renters` or homeowners` policy covers sewer backups and flooding.
George S. Hawkins

From our Bloomingdale Florida Avenue NW resident:

If the infrastructure you are responsible for maintaining (DCWATER) is not able to handle heavy rain, and you were aware of that fact beginning july 10 and did nothing to mitigate the problem through September 2nd, then I beg to differ. 
This is insulting on so many levels.

1 comment:

  1. Mr. Hawkins,
    Someone should educate you on the definition of "doing the right and moral thing." There is a human side to you that you don't seem to see. There are people, hard working, middle class people who just want to live without the fear of flooding and know that when an inferior utility system fails, those responsible for running it will step up and do the right thing. The ironic thing here is in your haste and zeal to avoid being sued you are merely going to end up in court with dozens of citizens. All you needed to do was sack up the few hundred thousand, send a few people around, and reimburse those affected this summer and you would have looked good, DC Water would have earned some karma credit, and your organization would actually be a bit credible. I guess we are all just disappointed but I am not shocked as your actions are just so typical of the corrupt, cover your ass corporate culture. You really need to remove your lawyers and insurance people from the equation sir, and do the right thing here. Shame on you...especially during the holidays. Shame you on sir.