D.C. Water, a company that distributes drinking water to Washington, D.C. residents, issued a boil water advisory for upper Northwest D.C. after a water transmission main broke in Arlington, Va. on Nov. 8.
Many Georgetown students received an emergency alert mobile push notification from the District’s emergency alert system Friday morning around 10 a.m. announcing the boil water advisory. Although there was ultimately no water contamination, the advisory called for residents and restaurants to boil water to eliminate potentially dangerous bacteria before drinking or cooking. The city lifted the advisory Nov. 10 after testing the water for contamination.
The university did not send an email to students clarifying the that the advisory did not apply to campus. No water from campus was impacted by contamination, according to a university spokesperson.
“Georgetown University was not affected by the boil water advisory that was issued by D.C. Water on Friday,” a university spokesperson wrote in an email to The Hoya. “University officials stayed in close contact with D.C. Water and monitored the active map to ensure that no campus locations were affected by the advisory.”
The water main break, which occurred at Glebe Road and Chain Bridge Road in Arlington, caused low water pressure, which could have allowed contaminants to enter the water supply, according to D.C. Water External Communications Manager Pamela Mooring.
“It is out of an abundance of caution that we issue a boil water advisory,” Mooring wrote in an email to The Hoya.
D.C. Water gathered water samples in different areas of the impact zone, according to Mooring. The company sent the first round of sampling to the lab Nov. 8 following the water main break, and those results came back negative for contamination Nov. 9.
D.C. Water then collected a second round of samples, which also came back negative, prompting D.C. Water to lift the advisory Nov. 10, according to Mooring.
Although Georgetown’s water was not impacted, Students of Georgetown, Inc., commonly referred to as The Corp, locations on campus stopped serving iced coffee for about an hour after seeing the D.C. Water advisory the morning of Nov. 8, The Corp’s Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Jack Heringer (MSB ’20) said in an interview with The Hoya.
“I was in contact with the University and following updates about the water advisory, but they hadn’t published anything concrete, so just as a proactive step we stopped serving iced coffee,” Heringer said. “It was purely precautionary, just to make sure we had all of our bases covered.”
After he received confirmation from the university that Georgetown’s campus did not lie within the boil water advisory zone, all Corp locations resumed normal service, according to Heringer.
Lily Howard (COL ’23) said she did not know about the water advisory until she tried to order an iced coffee from The Corp’s Grounded location and employees told her they were only serving hot coffee because of the warning from D.C. Water.
“I figured if the Hilltoss water might have been contaminated then maybe other water sources at Georgetown were contaminated,” Howard said. “So, I made sure to not drink from the water fountains and only buy hot drinks from coffee shops that day.”
Many coffee shops within the impact zone stopped selling coffee during the advisory, according to The Washington Post. The advisory impacted 100,000 Arlington and Northwest D.C. residents.
The impact zone did encompass American University’s main campus and the associated Washington College of Law, among other AU locations, according to The Eagle. In response, the university provided bottled water in residence halls and advised all members of the AU community to boil drinking and cooking water.
Those in the impact area were advised to boil water for drinking, brushing teeth, preparing and cooking food, washing fruits and vegetables, preparing infant formula, making ice and giving water to pets, according to a D.C. Water news release.
Although no contamination was detected, D.C. Water commended their clients for taking safety measures, according to a news release.
“We sincerely appreciate our customers’ patience while we took necessary precautions to deliver water to our customers,” the news release said.
This article has been updated to clarify that Georgetown University did not send the push notification to students.