February 05, 2015

LeDroit Park’s water doesn’t come from McMillan

Utility Building at the McMillan Reservoir

The McMillan Reservoir lies just north of LeDroit Park and just east of Howard University. Don’t let this large and visible piece of water infrastructure fool you. The reservoir supplies water not to LeDroit Park, but to much of downtown, Capitol Hill, Southwest, the Navy Yard, and Historic Anacostia (see blue pipes below).


According to a 1985 DC water distribution map, LeDroit Park’s water comes from a reservoir on Foxhall Road and a reservoir on the grounds of the Armed Forces Retirement Home (see the red pipe network).  These reservoirs, like all other reservoirs in the city, receive their water from the Dalecarlia Reservoir, which is run by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  The USACE pipes water to Dalecarlia from intake points at Little Falls and Great Falls on the Potomac.

Water distribution map

From Dalecarlia, water is piped to all of the secondary reservoirs, which typically sit atop highpoints in the city.  (In a previous post we covered the century-old, straight-line tunnel that delivers water to McMillan.) Gravity pulls the water down from each reservoir to neighborhoods at lower elevations.  Each neighborhood must be sufficiently lower than its supplying reservoir to receive enough water pressure at the faucet.

(I had difficulty finding these government maps, but found them at City Block.)

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