The photograph above shows members of Arlington’s Department of Public Works repairing the Chain Bridge water main in 1987.
Today, the Department of Environmental Services (DES) would be doing these repairs. DES looks after the county’s transportation system, its environment, and its capital investment, providing maintenance and daily operations. This organizational change took place in 2004.
There are four water mains in the Chain Bridge area. Three pipes, built in the 1920s and the 1940s, are attached to the bridge itself. A fourth pipe, 48″ in diameter and made of pre-stressed concrete, was built underneath the Potomac river bottom in 1967. This pipe is probably what is being repaired in the photograph. The Chain Bridge mains provide water for a large portion of the County. When a newly replaced above-ground main burst on March 12, 2006, over 100,000 residents were affected.
The Virginia Room holds many photographs depicting the day-to-day work of Arlington employees. It also holds some water and sewage records from the old Department of Public Works, dating from the 1920s to the 1980s.
What About You?
Do you remember losing your water in March 2006? How about losing water or electricity at other times? How did Arlington employees help you? Let us know what you remember!