Where There's Smoke There's…

WSSC uses harmless smoke to isolate improper connections to the sewer system and defects in pipes. Tests part of comprehensive sewer basin study to enhance wastewater collection system.

| News Release



Laurel, Maryland – August 14, 2003:  Continuing their efforts to enhance a wastewater collection system that protects public health and helps return clean water to the environment, the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) will begin smoke testing of sewer mains in several neighborhoods in the Rockville area of Montgomery County. The tests are part of WSSC's comprehensive Cabin John sewer basin study that started spring 2003.

Smoke testing will take place during the week of August 18, weather permitting, in sewer mains throughout the following areas: Montgomery Square; Regent Park; Willerburn Acres; and Walnut Woods. During tests, crews will introduce harmless smoke into the sewer system through manholes and observe locations where smoke escapes to help isolate any improper connections and/or defects in pipes. Smoke exiting through a home's downspout/gutter or through the ground can indicate an improper connection to the sewer system or a pipe defect. Residents in these areas and local fire officials have been notified of the tests.

Periodic lane closures may occur along streets in these neighborhoods. Cones, signs and traffic barrels will alert and guide motorists through these areas. Motorists are urged to use caution when driving through work zones.

During the four-year sewer basin study, 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. 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 county's storm water drainage 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. 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 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.


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