Sewer Sleuths Start Sweeping Study

| News Release



Laurel, Maryland – June 2, 2003:  James Bond has gone underground… literally. Equipped with the latest Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology, smoke bombs, digital video equipment and sewer-crawling video cameras, the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) will launch a massive investigation this spring to analyze the Cabin John sewer basin. Using technology that would have made "Q" proud, WSSC will capture data on rainfall, wastewater flows, the conditions of pipes and manholes and areas where sewer mains have become exposed due to erosion in creeks and streambeds. Investigators also will review growth patterns to develop plans to meet future wastewater needs.

"This comprehensive study will enable us to take stock of our underground infrastructure in this basin," said WSSC General Manager John R. Griffin. "Armed with this data, we can protect the environment and public health by rapidly making any necessary repairs to the sewer system."

The Cabin John sewer basin follows the Cabin John Creek watershed in southern Montgomery County and serves portions of the Rockville, Bethesda, Potomac and Cabin John communities. The basin contains more than 300 miles of sewer mains ranging from 6 to 48 inches in diameter and is one of 29 major sewer basins in the WSSC service area. WSSC's sewer system is a modern sanitary, or separate, system - meaning the pipes that carry sewage from homes and businesses to wastewater treatment plants are separate from the storm water drainage system. The Cabin John sewer basin transports approximately 8 million gallons of sewage per day to the Blue Plains Wastewater Treatment Plant in Washington, D.C.

WSSC will notify customers prior to work in their neighborhoods - especially work involving smoke testing. Harmless smoke is used to isolate improper connections to the sewer system and defects in pipes. Additionally, some of the wastewater flow monitoring will take place at night.

Due to the seasonal nature of the work, the investigation will take approximately four years to complete. The $5 million contract was awarded to URS Corporation, of Baltimore, MD.

WSSC is among the 10 largest water and wastewater utilities in the nation, serving 1.6 million customers in Prince George's and Montgomery counties. To report water or sewer emergency, customers may call WSSC's 24-hour Emergency Response number at (301) 206-4002.

For 100 years, WSSC has proudly served the citizens of Prince George’s and Montgomery counties – providing drinking water that has always met strict Safe Drinking Water Act standards and protecting the environment through vital water resource recovery services. Our vision is to be THE world-class water utility, where excellent products and services are always on tap.


Last Modified: