Update: Montgomery, Prince George's Counties Ordered to Restrict Water Usage
WSSC crews determined that the pipe that broke was a 60-inch water transmission pipe connected to a 54-inch line—not a 54-inch pipe, as originally reported.
Update, 1 p.m., Thursday, March 21:
Repairs to the 60-inch water main that burst Monday night in Chevy Chase continued on Thursday.
Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission crews removed the damaged 20-foot section of the pipe and are working to weld a new section in place, according to a WSSC statement issued at noon Thursday.
"Once repairs to the pipe are complete later this afternoon it will take several more days for the work to conclude," the statement read.
Only the right-hand northbound lane of Connecticut Avenue between Dunlop Street and Manor Road in Chevy Chase Lake remained closed Thursday.
Mandatory water restrictions continued Thursday for Montgomery and Prince George's counties.
"There is evidence that [water] consumption is down slightly," Jim Neustadt, a WSSC spokesman, said in the release. "And we thank our customers for their efforts. Every little bit helps."
Update, 8:30 p.m., Wednesday, March 20:
WSSC crews were slated to remove the damaged 20-foot section of the 5-foot-in-diameter pipe on Wednesday night and replace it with a new section of pipe, according to a WSSC statement.
"Once repairs to the pipe are complete, it will take several additional days for the work in the area to conclude," the statement added.
Update, 4 p.m., Wednesday, March 20:
WSSC police may issue $500 citations to residents violating the mandatory restrictions, which ask residents to cut water usage by 10 percent.
"We are hoping for compliance based on the honor system and people’s understanding of the importance of maintaining enough water and pressure in the system to keep us all safe," WSSC Spokeswoman Kira Lewis told Patch.
In the past, WSSC has "issued warnings and citations during mandatory water restrictions when violations were brought to our attention or encountered by the WSSC police officers and staff during their daily routines," Lewis said.
"This is not an effort to penalize or raise revenue, it is an effort to restore water levels and maintain adequate pressure in the system," she added.
Update, 4:30 p.m., Tuesday, March 19:
Mandatory water restrictions continue for Montgomery and Prince George's counties, according to a Montgomery County email alert.
WSSC contractors and crews have determined that the pipe that broke was a 60-inch water transmission pipe connected to a 54-inch line—not a 54-inch pipe, as originally reported, according to a WSSC statement.
No residents have lost water, and the tap water is safe to drink, the WSSC statement added.
All southbound lanes of Connecticut Avenue are open, and only one northbound lane is open at Chevy Chase Lake Drive, according to the Montgomery County email alert.
Original post, 8 a.m., Tuesday, March 19:
Mandatory water restrictions are in place for Montgomery and Prince George's counties following a massive water main break on Connecticut Avenue in Chevy Chase, according to a Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission statement.
"These mandatory water restrictions apply to all WSSC customers, residential and business, in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties. A violation carries a fine of up to $500," the statement said.
Residents have been asked to cut water usage by 10 percent. The water restrictions—expected to last up to a week—took effect Tuesday morning "to ensure continued water supply for all WSSC customers and for fire protection and hospital/medical uses," the statement added.
The restrictions followed a water main break near Connecticut Avenue and Chevy Chase Lake Drive that sent water gushing three stories high around 8 p.m. Monday.
Connecticut Avenue was closed in both directions overnight but southbound lanes were reopened Tuesday morning.
Mud and rubble was visible as rushing water felled trees on Chevy Chase Lake Drive near Connecticut Avenue. The force of the water was audibly ripping the bark from the trees.
"I've never seen anything like it," said a Montgomery County police officer who was on the scene Monday night.
WSSC has been working with fire departments from both counties to make sure there is enough water for fire protection. "Please don’t hoard water. We’re not running out," WSSC General Manager Jerry N. Johnson said in the statement.
"But if everyone can cut their water use by 10 percent we should be OK. We appreciate everyone's understanding and cooperation," he added.
The mandatory water restrictions are necessary to allow the water system to replenish itself while the 54-inch pipe—a pre-stressed concrete cylinder pipe installed around 1980—is being repaired. WSSC estimated that 60 million gallons of water were lost.
WSSC has not yet determined the cause of the break. No one was left without water service, according to the WSSC statement.
As part of the water restrictions, residents and businesses in Montgomery and Prince George's counties are asked to do the following, until repairs to the water main have been completed:
- Use water only as necessary (i.e., take 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.
On Tuesday morning, Montgomery County Council Member Roger Berliner, chair of the county council's Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment Committee, sent a letter to WSSC's General Manager and CEO Jerry N. Johnson, asking about the status of the broken water main section in "regard to WSSC's ongoing large diameter main inspection/repair/acoustic fiber optic monitoring work."
"It is my understanding that all large diameter pipes (48 inches or greater) will have gone through at least one round of inspections/maintenance/AFO monitoring by the end of [fiscal year 2013]," Berliner wrote.
"Both the Montgomery and Prince George’s Councils have supported all of WSSC’s funding requests for its large diameter pipe work and 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," he added in the letter.
Editor's note: This post has been updated.