Water officials prep for main breaks


As temperatures continue to drop, engineers at the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission are preparing to take on busted water mains across Montgomery and Prince George’s county.

The WSSC is on high alert after last winter kept them busy with a record setting 802 water main breaks.

“Last year was huge,” said WSSC General Manager Carla Reid. “It was the largest number of main breaks that we had to handle in the last ten years.”

However, the WSSC held demonstrations at the Potomac Water Filtration Plant to show that they are winter ready to handle this years challenges.

It generally takes about four to five hours to re-seal an average break but during that time, over 60,000 gallons of water can escape.

Officials stressed that residents across the county can help identify malfunctioning mains before they make a mess.

“They can help us to identify the leaks and the breaks,” said Reid. “They can call us in. They can use our mobile app or they can email us to let us know.”

The WSSC will have over 400 field engineers criss-crossing the county to handle trouble spots.

“It is always something new in the system that is broke or needs to be fixed,” said crew supervisor Craig Nottingham. “I don’t have to stay in one position or one area running around so it is a great opportunity.”

Their tools of the trade include leak detectors and pressure clamps and ice cutters.

The WSSC maintains more than 5,000 miles of water mains across Montgomery County.

Many of the area’s water mains are several decades old and the WSSC replaces approximately 40 miles worth of the pipes each year.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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