March Water Main Breaks
March 19, 2013
WSSC and Pepco crews have been hard at work throughout the day repairing last night's water main break on Connecticut Avenue. At this time, I wanted to advise you that one northbound lane of traffic on Connecticut Avenue is open, along with the regular three southbound lanes. You may want to consider using an alternate route in order to avoid what are likely to be severe delays.
And if one water main break wasn't enough - a second one occurred late this morning at River Road and Newbridge Road in Potomac. River Road is currently closed between Persimmon Tree Road and Bradley Boulevard, and, as I understand from WSSC, is likely to be closed through the evening rush hour.
First thing this morning, I wrote to WSSC General Manager Jerry Johnson asking for an immediate update on repair work. Since then, I have spoken directly with Mr. Johnson. In our conversation, I asked him directly whether the state of the art equipment that was intended to monitor this type of pipe -- pipe made of PCCP, which was the type of pipe that burst on River Road several years ago, had been installed on this watermain. Mr. Johnson replied in the affirmative. That response of course raises a host of other questions -- including whether the equipment installed was defective or whether WSSC failed to monitor it adequately. They need to have answers, and Mr. Johnson appreciates the urgency of being able to share with our community their assessment of what went wrong. I am scheduling a T&E Committee as soon as possible to provide a forum in which these questions and others can be aired and answered.
Until then, please drive safe on your evening commute tonight, and remember that WSSC customers in Montgomery County are under mandatory water restrictions. These restrictions are themselves a consequence of another issue that needs to be addressed -- there has been a 96 inch main out of service since November. It is the combination of that 96 inch main being down plus this latest break that necessitates the water restrictions. Why the 96 inch main has been out of service this long is very troubling in and of itself and a matter that we will certainly explore with WSSC at the hearing.
I wish I had a better report to share. Regardless of the reasons, I nonetheless urge you to comply with the mandatory restriction so that there are adequate water reserves for fire protection and medical/hospital services.