Prince George’s and Montgomery counties under water restrictions after break in water main -- Gazette.Net


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This story was updated 4:50 p.m., March 19, 2013.

Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission customers in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties are under mandatory water restrictions that could last up to a week after a water main broke in Chevy Chase Monday.

Work had begun by mid-day Tuesday to clear the area around the pipe, and WSSC could start repair in the next day or two on the site near the intersection of Connecticut Avenue and Chevy Chase Lake Drive, said WSSC spokesperson I.J. Hudson.

In response to the water main break, County Councilman Roger Berliner (D-Dist. 1) of Bethesda wrote a letter released Tuesday to WSSC General Manager Jerry N. Johnson, which requested information whether the WSSC had recently inspected or monitored the pipe.

In his letter, Berliner said that “it would be of great concern if this segment of pipe had been inspected recently and been found to not need any repairs or if acoustic fiber optic monitoring had been installed but is ultimately ineffective in providing an early warning of an impending break.”

The southbound lanes of Connecticut Avenue have been reopened, but only one northbound lane was open at Chevy Chase Lake Drive as of around 4:30 p.m.

The water main break also resulted in power outages for about 160 Pepco customers in the Chevy Chase area after trees pulled down wires, according to Courtney Nogas, a Pepco spokesperson.

The outages occurred around 5 a.m. and power was restored by noon, Nogas said.

Rockville’s city water system was not affected, and the city has not issued water restrictions for its system’s customers, according to a city news release.

Some Rockville residents, however — including those in King Farm, College Gardens and Plymouth Woods — are WSSC customers and should follow the water restrictions, the release said.

A second, smaller break in an 8-inch water main on River Road in Rockville resulted in lane closures on River Road between Bradley Boulevard and Persimmon Tree Road, which will continue until Tuesday evening and repairs are complete.

To ensure continued water supply for all WSSC customers and for fire protection and hospital/medical uses, Johnson this morning called for mandatory water restrictions for all WSSC customers. The restrictions take effect immediately and could last up to a week, according to a press release from WSSC.

The mandatory restrictions are necessary following a break in a 60-inch water transmission pipe connected to a 54-inch line.

WSSC originally said the break was in a 54-inch water transmission main.

The break occurred at about 8 p.m. Monday and resulted in a geyser shooting approximately 30-feet high. The mandatory water restrictions are necessary to allow the system to replenish while 54-inch pipe is repaired. An estimated 60-million gallons of water was lost, according to the WSSC release.

No customers are without water service, according to WSSC. Officials have not yet determined the cause of the break in the line that was installed in 1980.

Montgomery County Public Schools spokesperson Dana Tofig said schools have not been affected, but will abide by countywide water restrictions.

The Chevy Chase Library was closed Tuesday due to the water main break on Connecticut Avenue.

Natural gas and electric lines run alongside the water main. Employees from Washington Gas and PEPCO are at the site securing those lines so work on the water main can begin.

WSSC has been working with fire departments from both counties to make sure there is adequate fire protection.

“Please don’t hoard water. We’re not running out,” Johnson said in the release. “But if everyone can cut their water use by ten percent we should be ok. We appreciate everyone’s understanding and cooperation.”

Until repairs are complete, it is imperative that all business and residential customers:

-Use water only as necessary – i.e., shorter showers and turn off faucets after washing hands and while brushing teeth

-Limit flushing toilets (do not flush after every use)

-Put off washing clothes if possible

-Limit the use of dishwashers and wash only full loads

A violation of the restrictions carries a fine of up to $500 fine.

For additional information log on to the WSSC website at www.wsscwater.com or call the WSSC Call Center at 301-206-4002.