I am Doctor Madison Li. I have people with me in need of shelter. You must allow us access at once.Doctor Li trying to enter The Citadel after evacuating Project Purity.

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

Quick walkthroughEdit

Main Quest: The Waters of Life
Speak with the scientists at Rivet City.
Clear any super mutants in Project Purity.
Replace the fuses and boot up the mainframe.
Drain the intake pipes then head to the control room.
Escort the scientists through Taft Tunnel.
Take care of Garza's heart disease.
Arrive at the Citadel.
Reward: 700 XP
Leads to: Picking Up the Trail

Detailed walkthroughEdit

Go to the Rivet City science lab and join the scientists at Project PurityEdit

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 threatEdit

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. Close assault weapons will just as well work, the combat shotgun in particular.

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 MaintenanceEdit

  • Water Pump Control
  • Fuse Access A1
  • Mainframe door

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 sub-basement level in a 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 PipesEdit

The entrance to the pipes is directly ahead from the entrance to the Gift Shop. At this point, if you have any companions with you, it may be beneficial to tell them to wait in the basement. Otherwise, they could be lost in the pipes and not able to help you with the battles to come, as well as carry any heavy Enclave power armor you will scavenge. 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.

  • Note that if you tell any companions to "Wait" in the control room, they will immediately die upon activating the valve, so you can't glitch the game into opening the door by timing their one-week wait.

Return to the Control RoomEdit

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


Col. Autumn confronting James

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 to 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.


Col. Autumn injecting himself with a mysterious solution while James collapses in the background

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 keels 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 CitadelEdit

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 in the Taft Tunnel, 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 dubious 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.

The tunnels are populated with Enclave troops and multiple variants of feral ghouls. 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 can be heard saying, "Dr. Li, my heart... I must rest." then Dr. Li will explain that they need to stop: Garza's heart disease has gone critical, and he 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 (this awards good Karma).
  • 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.
  • Convince Garza it is best to stay behind.
  • Put Garza out of his misery (results in negative Karma).
  • (Note) Killing Garza with a (gun) will result in Dr. Li not moving forward, thus not being able to continue the story line.

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.

If you've searched the entire area and still can't find enough medical supplies, you can always fight your way through the tunnel by yourself, leave the tunnel, and go find the supplies somewhere else (buying them from a doctor would be the simplest way). Then, head back to the Citadel, enter the tunnel, and head back to the area where the scientists are. They should still be there, and you should still be able to give Doctor Li the medical supplies and complete the quest as normal.

If Garza is already dead before The Waters of Life is started, this part of the quest will be skipped entirely.

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 players will have to ditch their standard weapons to reach these troops. It is possible to get up onto their level and engage them in melee: walk into the room, go up the first set of steps, then the second and turn to face them you can jump onto the railing to your right and then again and you will be able to run along the wall. You can then pick up the Enclave Hellfire armor (if the Broken Steel add-on is installed), or Tesla armor from the soldier with the plasma rifle if you killed him while he was in the right corner near the railing. 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 two overhead turrets help out. They seem to handle the horde well, but the player can help out if need be. At the start of this tunnel on a bench is a Nuka-Cola Quantum and a copy of Nikola Tesla and You on a picnic table behind a generator. If the Brotherhood of Steel trooper is killed, one of the scientists will likely then pick up the flamer and attack the feral ghouls.


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 "goddamn" door at once. The door—quite comically—immediately opens.

Once inside, Owyn Lyons will confront Dr. Li and the surviving science team. 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 have not already obtained Power Armor Training from completing Operation: Anchorage!, now is the perfect time to ask Owyn Lyons for permission to begin the training.

Quest stagesEdit

10 Go to the Rivet City science lab.
20 Join the scientists at Project Purity.
25 Clear Project Purity of any remaining Mutant threat.
26 Tell Dad it's safe to enter Project Purity.
27 Escort the scientists inside Project Purity.
30 Turn on the Flood Control Pump Power.
40 Get the fuses from Dad.
50 Replace the damaged fuses.
60 Boot up the mainframe.
65 Speak with Dad over the intercom.
70 Drain the intake pipes.
75 Return to the control room.
80 Escort Doctor Li to the evacuation point.
85 Escort Doctor Li through Taft Tunnel to the Citadel.
90 Deal with the Garza's situation.
100Icon checkEscort Doctor Li through Taft Tunnel to the Citadel.


  • Escorting James through the Wasteland frequently results in his death, as he tends to run ahead, and he is very weak in a fight. It is best to fast travel to Rivet City as soon as you emerge from the garage.
  • The sequence with the arriving Enclave soldiers the player character witnesses from inside the pipe takes place outside the memorial. This means one can mine the walkway and blow up several Enclave soldiers.
  • If one wishes no harm to the scientists, one can have them wait and fight alone. You will not need to worry about friendly fire incidents and eventually they will link up with the player character when safe though it will not work all the time, as there is a force field / shield after you pass one of the doorways. This disallows the player character to go back, and disallows companions to move forward.
  • With the Broken Steel DLC installed, there may be feral ghoul reavers in the tunnels, and the attack against the Brotherhood barricade may contain up to four of them, depending on player level. A reaver is capable of dispatching the lone Brotherhood Initiate with a single swipe, so don't expect any help from him. The friendly turret will not last long, either. Due to the limited time for preparation and the panicking scientists, this can be quite a challenging fight.
  • When getting directions on the intercom from your father, 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 refers to the whole basement complex, i.e. from the door labeled Basement in the memorial. This can be a bit confusing.
  • Equipping various science team members with armor and weapons (reverse pickpocketing) prior to entering the Jefferson memorial (e.g. Garza/Anna and Alex/Daniel once inside) will allow them to use the same later against Enclave troops. However, bear in mind that equipping James and Janice is useless as they die a scripted death. Also, the non-player characters shall not use the armor unless they travel to a different cell.
  • After the Lone Wanderer reboot the mainframe, James instructs them to "head up to the Museum Level. Use the door at the north end of the level you are on now." Actually the door one needs to use is on the South end of the level you are on.
  • As soon as you talk to James via any intercom after rebooting the mainframe, the only exit to The Capital Wasteland will be blocked from outside and the Jefferson Memorial map marker will disappear from the world map. Consider doing any required fast travels as well as equipment relocation to your house before talking to James, as from this point on you won't be able to take a break from the quest until you reach the Citadel. You can loot up to 6 sets of Enclave power armor/Tesla armor (50 Wg each) and some energy weapons on your way, so avoid taking any useless weight with you.
  • In the room where you must defend Dr. Li from the Enclave while she uses a terminal (there is a Chinese Army: Special Ops Training Manual in the room with the Enclave), you can jump on various objects in the room where the Enclave spawn and gain access to the platform above. On the left side of the room there are three cylindrical objects by the platform where Enclave soldiers attack you from. You can jump from the railing to a curved pipe, then up onto the platform. By doing this you can loot corpses that may have been unreachable otherwise and (by entering an otherwise unreachable door) sneak up on the Enclave that normally ambush you in the next area. More importantly, you can bypass the part of the quest where Garza needs medical attention, thus saving him, and saving you some stimpaks.
  • The catwalks that the Enclave soldiers patrol are accessible through some complicated barrel stacking. In the room in which the Enclave soldiers are directly above the entrance, a barrel may be placed next to the portable lighting on the right side of the room, allowing the player to jump from the lighting to the steel framework. Two barrels must be stacked next to the framework, so that once on the framework the player can crouch and pick up a barrel, and with some difficulty lay the barrel in place next to the soldier's platform. Once the player jumps from the barrel to the platform, all of the Enclave catwalks can be reached, enabling the player to loot the soldiers that had been previously fought.
    • Using 5mm rounds instead of barrels may be easier for some players.
    • At the far end of the catwalks is a ladder leading up, likely the access point the Enclave used to get onto the catwalks. However the ladder cannot be climbed, the player's interactions with it are to "open" and "close" it, both actions doing nothing.
  • Also, you could use the pipes inside the first room, just jumping from one to the other; remember to save for it is a glitch trap if done wrong.
  • Be careful about dealing with ghouls when guiding the group out. If you wing Garza, no matter the damage, he may be put in a permanent fleeing/hostile state. If he is, Doctor Li and the others won't follow you unless Garza is. So you may need to kill Garza to finish the quest.
  • Upon completion of this quest, the Enclave will set up several "bases" and will generally have a much larger presence in the Capital wasteland.


  • Xbox 360Icon xbox360 After James poisons the control room, Autumn will occasionally not inject himself and die, not moving for as long as you watch him. [verified]
  • PCIcon pc The path the group takes from Rivet City to the Jefferson Memorial leads them past an outpost where a group of super mutants may spawn. Though normally they will be out of their way, the super mutants may catch sight of them and attack, in which case the scientists and escort except for Dr. Li and James will be killed. [verified]
  • PCIcon pc The scientists may not spawn properly as the player follows them out of Rivet City. This can be fixed by re-entering the previous location and then going back, but may cause the group to be broken up as they travel. Alternatively you can fast travel to Jefferson Memorial and you should link up with them again. [verified]
  • PCIcon pc Playstation 3Icon ps3 Xbox 360Icon xbox360 Right after Dr. Li confronts the player about Garza's condition, regardless of the response 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. [verified]
  • Xbox 360Icon xbox360 If there is a dead super mutant in the Jefferson Memorial doorway, the entire team will enter the building except for James, who stands 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. Or you could knock James unconscious and drag his body to the door of the rotunda and most likely he'll enter and the quest will continue. [verified]
  • PCIcon pc Xbox 360Icon xbox360 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. [verified]
  • PCIcon pc Playstation 3Icon ps3 Xbox 360Icon xbox360 If the player hacks the terminal before Dr. Li, or simply does not allow Dr. Li to hack the terminal, you may get 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. Alex and Daniel will return to the Jefferson Memorial after the main quest if Broken Steel is installed. [verified]
  • Xbox 360Icon xbox360 If the player tells Doctor Li to lead the way, she may get stuck at a certain point and not move. This can be fixed by killing Doctor Li and entering the sub-basement while she is dead. Wait 1 game hour then go back to the gift shop and Doctor Li will have entered the secret tunnel. Alternatively the Citadel glitch can be used to prematurely enter the Citadel, and then reading the Vault-Tec terminal's entry on Vault 87 triggering Picking Up the Trail, bypassing the Waters of Life quest altogether.[verified]
  • PCIcon pc Playstation 3Icon ps3 Xbox 360Icon xbox360 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. [verified]
  • Xbox 360Icon xbox360 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. To fix this all you have to do is repeatedly walk into James until you get near the rotunda door then he should walk in by himself. [verified]
  • PCIcon pc Playstation 3Icon ps3 Xbox 360Icon xbox360 If you speed run all the way to the rotunda you may be able to get behind the doors before they shut; you will die of radiation poisoning if this happens. However, if you attempt to talk to Colonel Autumn, there will be no dialogue from him and he will shoot Janice after exiting the non-existing dialogue. This will cause the cinematic to halt completely, and you will be able to talk to James and the two Enclave soldiers accompanying Autumn, as they will not turn hostile even after you shoot Autumn, who will not die no matter how many times you shoot him. You will, however, be stuck in the control room as the bulkhead will not open. [verified]
  • PCIcon pc Playstation 3Icon ps3 Xbox 360Icon xbox360 The four quest companions you guide through Taft Tunnel seem to mess up the game's standard companion handling. Examples: one or more of your standard companions spawn in the tunnel; one of the four quest followers turns into Dogmeat; Dogmeat will relocate to Vault 101 after you reach the Citadel. Any spawned followers may remain in their waiting state in the tunnel, so if you're missing any after this quest, look for them in the second part of tunnel. [verified]
  • PCIcon pc Sometimes, Dr. Li will stay near the entrance to the Taft Tunnel and refuse to progress to the Citadel. This can be remedied by using the console to disable then enable Doctor Li. (Disabling / enabling may not help if all companions but Garza are alive, disallowing the game to progress at all.) [verified]
  • PCIcon pc Xbox 360Icon xbox360 After you turn off the pump and run back upstairs to get the fuses, Dad always comments on what you've done up to this point. If you blew up Megaton and choose the option "what I do in the world is my business, not yours," he will respond with: "What you do in the world may be your business, but here, with me, you are MY son." He says "son" even if you are his daughter. [verified]
  • Xbox 360Icon xbox360 Sometimes if you rush through the game and get to where you have to get the fuses from James, he'll just keep repeating Revelation 21:6 and won't let you progress through the main storyline. [verified]
  • PCIcon pc Playstation 3Icon ps3 Xbox 360Icon xbox360 Sometimes if the player accidentally harms a follower other than Doctor Li, when arriving at the Citadel the non-player character will become hostile towards the player causing the Brotherhood of Steel to also become hostile. This can sometimes be fixed by reloading your autosave, activating a Stealth Boy then killing the non-player character. [verified]
  • Xbox 360Icon xbox360 After Dr. Li demands the door to the Citadel be opened the player will have a chance to enter the Citadel before they are supposed to. This sometimes leads to Dr. Li not being "escorted" into the Citadel, and permanent cut-scene immobility should you re-enter at a later date to try and complete the main quest. This can sometimes be fixed by heading to Little Lamplight and the next plot sequence. [verified]
  • Xbox 360Icon xbox360 If you Mezz any of the scientists in the rotunda the NPCs start glitching out in various ways. Doctor Li will start running in mid-air outside the control room in the rotunda, hit the wall then warp back and repeat. Also your dad may become hostile and start shooting you and/or Doctor Li. [verified]
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