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WSSC: Water Main Repairs Slow but Steady in Frigid Temps

Crews need to rotate in and out of the cold while repairing broken water mains.

WSSC crew member. Patch file photo by Andrew Metcalf.
WSSC crew member. Patch file photo by Andrew Metcalf.
Frigid temperatures and water pipes do not always get along.

By about noon on Tuesday, Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission crews were faced with 38 broken water mains—eight reported in just 90 minutes—in Montgomery and Prince George's counties, WSSC spokesman Jerry Irvine reported.

The crews are working around the clock to repair the busted pipes, but it's slow going, because of the cold temperatures. "Crews need to rotate in and out of the cold to stay safe," Irvine said.

Other WSSC crews are on patrol for leaks, and are spreading sand in places to help minimize icing. "Leaks will be repaired after crews address the larger breaks," Irvine added. 

To see where all the breaks and leaks are in real time, see WSSC's service alerts page, at gisweb.wsscwater.com/servicealerts/.

WSSC is one of the larger water utilities in the nation, and serves about 1.8 million residents in Montgomery and Prince George's counties.

November was WSSC's busiest month last year, with 337 breaks and leaks. Altogether, WSSC crews repaired 1,691 broken and leaking mains in 2013—just slightly above the 1,601 in 2012, but below the record high of 2,126 set in 2007, WSSC reported. In a chart, WSSC shows how very cold temperatures can correspond to water main breaks and leaks.

Is your neighborhood facing a water main break or leak? Tell us in the comments.

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