>A Smoldering Problem

>Thanks to the foresight of the Founding Fathers, the District of Columbia is in the beneficial situation of being a city with plenty of water, from the Georgetown Reservoir to the Potomac River, Rock Creek and the Anacostia River, just to name a few sources. Unfortunately, as I have previously noted, the city’s water systems are not being adequately maintained. The recent burning of The Georgetown Library and philanthropist Peggy Cafrtiz’ home, among others, are examples of the bad state of affairs in which residents may find themselves during a blaze.

Now a frightening new report indicates that approximately 6,500 of the city’s 9,000 fire hydrants have not been adequately tested for proper water flow. Several particularly vulnerable water mains have also been identified, including the mains located at the intersection of P and 29th Streets in Georgetown. One can imagine the damage and loss that a fire at the nearby Dumbarton Oaks, Tudor Place, or Dumbarton House museums might cause if this main in particular is not urgently addressed. The same report indicates that the National Zoo, a veritable tinderbox of flammable materials, is also near a poorly maintained water main.

For most of the last few decades, the District has developed a well-deserved reputation for not being adequately managed. Its recent history has been characterized by a see-sawing back and forth between runaway city councils dominating ineffective mayors, or imperialist mayors with cowering city councils, as at present. Part of this, no doubt, has to do with the fact that this city is, in effect, a fiefdom of the entitlements wing of the Democratic Party, and this is unlikely ever to change. One wonders whether it will take a major fire at a Federal building or National Monument for Congress to step in and see that necessary repairs and upgrades are made.


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