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From The Vault

The Waters of Life

Arrival of the Enclave
location: Vault 112
Rivet City
Jefferson Memorial
end location: Citadel
given by: Dad
reward: 700 xp
previous: Tranquility Lane
leads to: Picking up the Trail
base id: 00014E8B
The Waters of Life

requirements: Complete The Waters of Life
gamerscore: 20
trophy type: Bronze

The Waters of Life is a Fallout 3 quest. It is also a Xbox 360/PC achievement and a PlayStation 3 Trophy.



The quest centers around the reactivation of the abandoned Project Purity, a water filtering facility set up 19 years before at the Jefferson Memorial in an attempt to bring large quantities of clean water to the Capital Wastes.

Objectives and Walkthrough


Go to the Rivet City Science Lab / Join the Scientists at Project Purity

James will make his way to Rivet City; the player can choose to follow him there or leave him on his own, either way, he will eventually reach the Rivet City Science Lab and wait for the player to meet him there.

Upon the player's arrival, James convinces Dr. Li to reactivate Project Purity. After a short conversation, he asks the player to meet him and the scientists at the Jefferson Memorial. It is highly advised to stock up and prepare for a battle, as well as free up as much inventory space as possible.


Named characters who relocate to the Jefferson Memorial:

Clear Project Purity of any remaining Mutant Threat

Dr. Li, James, and the rest of the science team will be waiting for the player at the entrance to the Gift Shop. James informs the player that he or she must clear the Memorial of the remaining Super Mutant threat before they can proceed. The player should have killed most of the Super Mutants in the Gift Shop area during the Scientific Pursuits quest, leaving the Super Mutants in the basement to be exterminated. The Memorial Sub-basement consists of short narrow corridors with an occasional room, so Melee Weapons, and Unarmed characters will feel right at home. Users of ranged weapons will need to be more cunning. Mines work well in these tight quarters, as the various hallways create choke points.

If the player has already cleared out the Jefferson Memorial, James and the team will go straight to the Rotunda, bypassing the preliminary pep-talk.

Routine Maintenance

Water Pump Control.
Fuse Access A1.
Mainframe door.
Col. Autumn confronting James.
Col. Autumn injecting himself with a mysterious solution while James collapses in the background.

Once James arrives at the control room, he asks the player to carry out some maintenance tasks to bring the project back online.

  • Turn off Flood Control Pump Power - The Flood Control Pump is located in the room to the left of the bunk bed area. The switch is beside an Intercom and is illuminated by a floodlight.
  • Get the Fuses from Dad / Replace Damaged Fuses - Return to James to get new fuses. The fuse box is at the end of the basement area: there are signs on the wall ('Fuse Access A1') to direct the player to the fuse box.
  • Boot up the mainframe / Speak with Dad over intercom - The door to the mainframe is located on the 'upper level' of the basement, before the stairs down to the bunk bed room. After the fuses are installed, a large green light beside the door will turn on. The player must enter the door and throw the switch on the mainframe, and then speak to James. He will tell the player to return, then change his mind and tell the player to clear out a blockage in an intake pipe.

Drain the Intake Pipes

The entrance to the pipes is directly ahead from the entrance to the Gift Shop. Once inside, the player has to run through the pipe to the end, and turn the control. On the right is the valve to activate the draining. As soon as the valve is activated, the player will witness the arrival of Enclave soldiers in a Vertibird. (If from inside the pipes you successfully attack one or more of the arriving Enclave soldiers then when you go into the next section of pipe they might be waiting for you at the end of the tunnel.) The opposite gate unlocks, and the player is allowed through to the next area.

Return to the Control Room

Now you--the player--must battle your way back to the Rotunda, dispatching any power-armored Enclave soldiers in your path.

Upon arriving at the control room, Dr. Li is locked out of the main area, while Janice Kaplinski, James, Colonel Autumn and two Enclave soldiers are locked in. Colonel Autumn confronts James and orders him forfeit the Memorial and assist the Enclave with making the water purifier operational. James refuses, stating that the Enclave has no control over such a private project, and asks the Colonel to leave. Autumn eventually puts a bullet through Janice Kaplinski's abdomen, prompting James to accede to the Colonel's demands to avoid more violence. James instead overloads the purifier, flooding the locked chamber with deadly levels of radiation. Col. Autumn quickly injects himself with a mysterious solution (most likely the Enclave's version of Rad-X) and kneels over, unconscious. James, having no such medicine, drags himself over to the emergency bulkhead and tells his son or daughter to run, before slumping to the ground, dead.

Escort Doctor Li to the Citadel

A stunned Dr. Li informs the player that the only way to escape the Memorial is through a series of underground tunnels that lead to the Brotherhood of Steel stronghold, the Citadel. She will run to a manhole in the floor not far from the rotunda door, and the player must follow. Once underground she will tell the player that they must keep moving to avoid detection by the Enclave. Daniel Agincourt can be given a light weapon, but this is of doubtful use to the player, because he may charge headlong into battle and get himself killed. Doctor Li will follow or wait depending on the player's orders; however, it is important to note that she will also move forward automatically if you get too far ahead, stopping at designated points in order to keep up with you. This can be a helpful way of keeping the group out of harm's way without having to micromanage them.

A high Perception is very handy in the tunnels, as the place is populated with deadly Enclave troops and feral ghouls, and the player is towing several soft targets. It would not do well to be surprised by enemies with the scientists in tow. As soon as a red bar appears on the compass, the player should tell the the scientists to wait, and then deal with the threat. The Ghoul Mask can be helpful here, as due to a quirk of the AI the ferals will ignore the scientists as well so long as the player has the mask equipped. Melee and Unarmed characters will need to switch to a ranged weapon, as some Enclave troops are on inaccessible catwalks. The free inventory space can be used to collect various pieces of Enclave technology, such as Advanced Power Armor Mk II, Tesla Power Armor and Laser/Plasma rifles. The first area with catwalks houses a table with various Chinese items: most notably a Chinese Army: Special Ops Training Manual, a Chinese Assault Rifle, a Dirty Chinese Jumpsuit and a rare Chinese Commando Hat. Also past the table is another table with a rolling pin like the one found in Tranquility Lane .

Once in the second section of the tunnels (called Taft Tunnel), Garza will turn to Dr. Li and mumble something about his heart. Dr. Li will explain that they need to stop: Garza's heart condition has gone critical, and will not make it to the Citadel alive if first aid is not administered quickly. The player has a few options at this point:

  • Give up five Stimpaks to alleviate his condition until he can see professional medical care.
  • Convince Dr. Li to leave Garza behind.
  • Convince Dr. Li to give Garza three bottles of Buffout instead, to drug him and keep him moving.
  • Murder Garza.

If the player doesn't want to leave or kill Garza, but hasn't the Stimpaks nor Buffout, he or she can continue along the corridors and try to find Stimpaks. They are in two locations, the first is an abandoned operating theater which is to the left when the corridor forks off not long after Garza has to stop. The second location is at the very end of the corridors, directly behind the Brotherhood of Steel barricade, in a first aid container.

After dealing with the Garza situation, the player can continue the same routine of checking for danger, telling the scientists to wait, then returning to the scientists once their path is secure. Eventually, the player must enter a room with a catwalk above the entrance. This can be a tricky battle, since the Enclave troops have the high ground. Grenades work well: they can damage the Enclave troops even when they try to retreat farther back into the catwalk. The player should stick with V.A.T.S. grenade tosses if their freehand skills aren't up to snuff, lest the grenade come bouncing back. Watch out for companions, particularly Charon, as they seem to have a death wish that directs them to stand in the middle of the room firing at the Enclave. Also, one of the scientists has a strange urge to charge into the room, and making a mistake with a grenade might kill him. Again, melee player will have to ditch their standard weapons to reach these troops. In the housed area to the back of the room is a desk with an Eyebot Helmet.

Farther down the passage, the opposition will turn into Feral Ghouls; a welcome alternative to armor-clad troopers. Eventually, the terrain will become a sewer tunnel with a Brotherhood of Steel checkpoint at the end. The soldier isn't too happy to see civilians running through his checkpoint. Once past the sandbags, it is advised to keep running until the rest of the science team is well away from the sandbags, for a horde of Feral Ghouls will pour from a near door. The Brotherhood of Steel is armed with a Flamer for this exact reason, and will pour flame into his attackers while an overhead turret helps out. They seem to handle the horde well, but the player can help out if need be. If the player noticed the door before reaching the checkpoint, it is possible to pick the Hard lock on the door and kill the Ghouls before they can pour out en mass, and collect some minor loot. At the start of this tunnel on bench is a Nuka-Cola Quantum and a copy of Nikola Tesla and You.

The Citadel, and a very tired Dr. Li.

Once topside, an exasperated Dr. Li will argue with Paladin Bael for entrance into the Citadel to no avail. She then runs to the intercom and yells at Owyn Lyons to open the godforsaken door at once. The door - quite comically - immediately opens.

Once inside, Owyn Lyons will confront Dr. Li and the surviving science team. Owyn Lyons questions Li for a few minutes on what transpired at the Memorial, and Li breathlessly tells him about James's plan and the Enclave's intervention. If you had not already done so now is the perfect time to ask Owyn Lyons for permission to begin power armor training after the conversation.

Notable loot

The following loot can be found in Taft Tunnel. Please see the specific page for additional info.


  • All glitches and cheats are listed on the discussion page accessible through the tab at the top of the page
  • When escorting Dr. Li and company, wearing the Ghoul mask will not prevent them from getting attacked.
  • When getting directions on the intercom from your Dad, he may tell you that you're on the right level when you are in fact at the wrong elevation. Although the basement has stairs and different "levels" or flights as such he does not distinguish between these but refer to the whole basement complex, i.e. from the door labeled Basement in the memorial. This can be a bit confusing.


  • Right after Dr. Li confronts the Player about Garza's condition, regardless the responds of the player given to her, if the player chooses to go back where Garza is, it is possible to see your companions spawned there; when they should be waiting for the player in the Megaton house. (confirmed all platforms)
  • There appears to be a bug where upon trying to exit the Rotunda after your father dies, the game freezes making it impossible to finish the quest. After downloading the patch and trying the quest again, it froze earlier, on the way back to the rotunda after seeing the Enclave arrive. (confirmed Xbox 360)
  • There appears to be a bug where if Dr. Li goes into the basement area of the Jefferson Memorial and you follow in after her, if she goes back into the main area, and if you try to follow her again, the game will freeze up as you load through. (confirmed Xbox 360 and PS3)
  • Near the end of the quest where you leave the tunnels to approach the Citadel, there is a bug that can cause the game to crash. This occurs when you fast travel to another part of the Wasteland before Dr. Li requests the gates of the Citadel be opened. When you return to the Citadel, Dr. Li and the other survivors will be walking around the perimeters of the Citadel aimlessly and will not approach the intercom. Without Dr. Li to request the gates be opened, entrance to the Citadel cannot be achieved, hence making it impossible to continue with the main story. Can be fixed by reloading the game at the autosave created after leaving Taft Tunnels. (confirmed Xbox 360 and PS3)
  • There appears to be a bug in the Xbox 360 version where if there is a dead super mutant in the Jefferson Memorial doorway, the entire team will enter the building except for James/Dad, who stand in front of the Project Purity entrance in the wasteland and tells the player they need to go to Project Purity. This bug stops the quest and game from being able to be completed. Beating him there and moving the body out of the way appears to resolve the issue. (confirmed Xbox 360)
  • On the way to the memorial, Dad may tell you to check for super mutants. When you clear out the place and come back, he may be stuck in the air unable to talk to you. The quest can still be completed and this Dad may still be alive during the Take It Back! quest, but he will be unable to talk to you. (confirmed Xbox 360 and PC)
  • There appears to be a bug just outside the "catwalk room" where you fight off the Enclave while Dr. Li opens the door. After the threat is cleared and the door opened Alex and Daniel continue to wait endlessly on either side of the doorway. Dr. Li and Garza still follow the player normally. Alex and Daniel remain in the same place even if the player goes to a different area and returns (the trick that will return 'lost' traveling companions). This is confirmed on PC, too. Furthermore when the NPCs were teleported to the Citadel using the console they immediately started moving back to that spot by the door in the Taft tunnels. Even the kill-resurrect-disable-enable sequence wouldn't deter them. (confirmed all platforms)
  • If the player tells Doctor Li to lead the way, she may get stuck at a certain point and not move, making it impossible to finish the quest. (confirmed Xbox 360)
  • After the Enclave takes over "Project Purity", with three followers escaping through the tunnels, the male lab scientist (Alex Dargon) turned into Dogmeat after the loading screen to "Taft Tunnels". Dogmeat was acquired earlier in the game and was supposed to be waiting at Megaton. I tried reloading the Auto Save, but Dogmeat would keep appearing. (confirmed Xbox 360 and PC)
  • Once you leave the Taft Tunnels and arrive in front of the Citadel, you won't be able to return for the armor anymore since the soldiers are gone, even if you managed to kill the two troops, their bodies will disappear (but the bodies of the other troops with regular armor will remain). It is possible to obtain the armor of the Enclave soldiers in the tunnels, by taking it off their bodies and dropping in the floor. You can then leave the tunnels and when you come back, the bodies will be gone, but the armor will remain. (confirmed on PS3)
  • When your father James and Doctor Li talk in the Rivet City science lab, the cinematic mode will not come on and you are free to walk around like normal, yet their conversation still goes on. (confirmed all platforms)
  • When you clear out the areas in "Project Purity", it may happen when everyone enters the Jefferson Memorial they will not move but stay at the door and talk with one another. You will still have dialogue options though. (confirmed Xbox 360)To fix this all you have to do is repeatedly walk into James/Dad until you get near the rotunda door then he should walk in by himself.
  • If you speed run all the way to the rotunda (Where James dies) you may be able to get behind the doors before they shut, you will die of radiation poisoning if this happens. (confirmed PC and PS3)
  • After you save Dad from Tranquility Lane, You can ask him whether to meet up with him at Rivet City or follow him there. There is a bug where if you say you want to follow him then fast travel to Rivet City, Dad will stay at the place you were just at and will not continue to Rivet City till you go back. If you happen to get this bug just reload the autosave from getting out of the Garage. (confirmed PS3)
  • After watching James die, talk to Dr. Li and she will respond with her normal dialogue but will not move. Or Dr. Li will travel through the first door and stop. (confirmed Xbox 360)
  • Accidentally attacked one of the scientists while escaping, starts randomly running away... making the other scientists run with them, as they stay in a group. (PC) fix: 'setav aggression 0' and 'enable/disable' in console, it makes them stay in one area, but as soon as you leave out to the citadel, they all follow normally.
  • After dying near the end of the Taft Tunnels, upon reloading, the companions (Dogmeat AND Charon) spawned behind Dr. Li et al, even though they were both originally waiting outside My Megaton House. Upon completion of "The Waters of Life" and returning home, the companions were nowhere to be found, until the Taft Tunnels were searched again. Both companions were waiting in the tunnel as if they were told to and began following again once instructed to do so. (PS3, PC, and Xbox 360)
  • When you return to Rotunda after Enclave arrives, Janice may not be inside when the door shuts. This causes the script to freeze when Colonel is supposed to shoot her. Loading from saved game prior to entering Rotunda does not seem to help in this case. However, if you quickly exit Rotunda and re-enter before dialog gets very far, Janice will appear in her proper place, allowing the game to continue. (PC)
  • If you have this quest, but are not doing it (it is in your quest inventory), Three Dog will remark on GNR that the Purifier is active and the caravans are coming, even though Project Purity is without power or a G.E.C.K.
  • When completing the quest The Waters of Life, when you need to get to the control center, the door won't open, and you cannot exit the building.
  • The player may find themselves locked out of the Jefferson Memorial building.
Quests in Fallout 3
The Citadel

This article uses material from the "The Waters of Life" article on the Fallout wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.


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