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Sewage Backups, Water Leaks Threaten Municipal Budgets

Century-old water pipes backed up in a storm in Washington D.C.’s Bloomingdale section, sending water and sewage cascading into basements. When it happened twice more in nine days last summer, a torrent of complaints flowed.

“Citizens are rightly frustrated and upset about sewer backups,” said George Hawkins, the District’s Water and Sewer Authority general manager. “The challenge we face is that the engineering fix is monumental. It runs back into the issue that we have a significant bill we have to figure out how to fund.”