WSSC Repairs, Advisories, Updates & Water Saving Tips

July 6 Update
WSSC Lifts Mandatory Water Restrictions
Effective Immediately
Section of 96-inch Pipe is Successfully Replaced
Customers Can Return to Normal Usage 

(Laurel, MD, July 6, 2010)  General Manager Jerry N. Johnson has announced the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) is lifting the Mandatory Water Use Restrictions, effective immediately.  WSSC serves customers in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties.

"Our pipe is back in service.  I want to thank our customers who were unavoidably inconvenienced by these water restrictions,” said Johnson. “We made the right decision and took the proper precautions when we decided to immediately repair the pipe. The restrictions were unfortunate, but necessary.  We needed to be proactive to prevent what could have been a very serious situation."

WSSC [had] continued the restrictions into Tuesday to make certain that the water meets state water quality standards and ensure the health and safety of our customers.  WSSC has never had a drinking water violation in 92 years of operation.  Tests confirmed this morning that those standards have been met.  The pipe was put back in service and now the water use restrictions have been lifted

The [restriction] order was issued on Thursday July 1, 2010 after a state-of-the-art monitoring system detected a potential weakness in a section of a 96-inch pipe near the intersection of Tuckerman Lane and Gainsborough Road in Potomac in Montgomery County.  In order to maintain pressure for fighting fires and to reduce risk to the entire system, it was necessary to reduce water usage to take the pressure off of another, smaller transmission pipe.  A preliminary inspection of the pipe indicates obvious corrosion and damage. It will undergo a full forensic analysis.

WSSC asked for a 30 percent reduction in water use, with a prohibition on outdoor use.  This necessitated cooperation throughout the counties, the state and the region.  “I want to thank Governor Martin O’Malley, Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett and Prince George’s County Executive Jack Johnson, their staffs and emergency personnel; as well as WSSC’s Commissioners for their support of our actions,” stated General Manager Johnson. "I also want to thank the media who took extra steps to help inform the public; the State Highway Administration for its cooperation; our customers who cut back on water usage; the contractor who made the repairs; and of course the team at WSSC who literally worked around the clock to fix the pipe and to inform the public.  I know it was a major inconvenience, especially on a holiday weekend."

A sophisticated monitoring technology called Acoustic Fiber Optics (AFO) was installed in the 96-inch Pre-stressed Concrete Cylinder Pipe (PCCP) three years ago during a routine inspection. Wires are embedded inside the PCCP and covered by a layer of concrete.  When corrosion causes the concrete, and then the wires, to deteriorate, the wires snap and make a “ping” sound. AFO works by “listening” for those sounds. An alarm was sounded Thursday June 30, 2010 after eight pings were detected over a 24-hour period.  That set off a series of events which led to WSSC taking the pipe out of service and ordering the Mandatory Water Restrictions.

While work on the pipe is complete, work to restore the site will continue for several days.  WSSC wants to thank the residents and motorists in the area for their patience.
More WSSC News, Alerts & Updates

July 5 UPDATE:
Don’t Start Watering in Prince George’s and Montgomery Counties Yet
WSSC’s mandatory watering restrictions are still in effect.  This applies to all WSSC customers, both residential and commercial in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties.   The earliest that the mandatory water use restrictions could be lifted is Tuesday, July 6.

Mandatory watering restrictions include no outside water use, use only full loads for clothes washers and dishwashers, limit flushing toilets (do not flush after every use), and use water only when necessary (shorter showers, turn off faucets after washing hands, etc.)

WSSC customers have providing ideas on how they are getting their plants green during the mandatory restrictions, including using water from cooking vegetables to using water from a nearby pond.

For more information, go to:

July 3, 2010
Contact: Kimberley Knox (301) 206-8100

Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission’s Mandatory Water Restrictions require that WSSC customers in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties NOT use WSSC water on their lawns, gardens and other landscaping and customers should reduce all water usage.   The repair effort is on schedule to be completed sometime Monday, July 5, if there are no complications.

But here are some ways that your landscape can still keep green during the mandatory water restrictions:

  1. Place one to two inches of mulch around your plants.
  2. Use water from bathing or washing dishes. Soap will not harm plants
  3. Use water from cooking vegetables or pasta.
  4. Collect rainwater and use it on the plants that need the most help.
  5. Collect water from your shower rather than letting it go down the drain.
  6. While waiting for you shower to heat up, collect that water in a bucket for your plants.
  7. In the kitchen, rather than letting the water run until the water is cold (or hot), collect the water and use it for your plants.
  8. Use water collected from your dehumidifier on your plants.
  9. In the future, drought-tolerant plants make a lovely garden.  For an example, go to WSSC’s demonstration garden at Brighton Dam Visitor’s Center’s parking lot.
Have an idea of your own? Go to WSSC’s “Friends of Brighton Dam” Facebook’s Discussion Page and share it with others.

Suggestions Courtesy of:
Wanda MacLachlan, Area Educator - Residential Landscape Management,
University of Maryland Extension

Have you joined our "Friends of Brighton Dam" or our "Friends of Western Branch" Facebook Pages?   By becoming a fan, you'll get all of the latest information about environmental education events and cleanups around WSSC's property on the Patuxent and Western Branch.  Check us out!

Kimberley M. Knox, Community Outreach Manager
Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission
14501 Sweitzer LaneLaurelMD 20707
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