WSSC Approves Study of Crucial Water Supply Main

Supply main will help transport clean drinking water to Montgomery and Prince George's Counties; Project is one of the last major segments in WSSC's water distribution network; Alignment study involves extensive community outreach

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OFFICE OF COMMUNICATIONS AND COMMUNITY RELATIONS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Laurel, Maryland – September 7, 2004:  Continuing their efforts to provide Montgomery and Prince George's County customers with a constant, reliable supply of safe, clean drinking water, the Commissioners who oversee operations of the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) recently approved a $9.9 million contract to begin an alignment study of a crucial water supply main. The study will begin this fall.

The Bi-County water supply main is a 5.5-mile long, 84-inch diameter water main connecting an existing 96-inch diameter main at the intersection of I-270 and Tuckerman Lane to another existing 96-inch diameter main in the area where Rock Creek crosses I-495 in Montgomery County. The new supply main will help transport clean drinking water from WSSC's Potomac Water Filtration Plant (WFP) to eastern Montgomery County and most of Prince George's County. The main will alleviate capacity limitations from an existing 54-inch diameter water main that delivers water from the Potomac WFP to the existing 96-inch diameter main at Rock Creek and I-495.

"Providing a constant, reliable supply of safe, clean water to our customers is our number one priority," said WSSC Interim General Manager Carla Reid Joyner. "For daily use and fire protection, this supply main will enable WSSC to continue to meet future water supply needs and expectations of our customers -- especially during peak use periods, droughts and emergencies. This main is one of the last major segments in our 5,300-mile water distribution network."

Short-term impacts of not having this project include low water pressure -- below 30 pounds per square inch (psi) -- and loss of water storage for fire fighting and emergency supply in the Silver Spring area. This will have an impact on WSSC's ability to provide water at sufficient pressure for fire protection. Below 30 psi, customers may notice a decrease in water system performance when using multiple plumbing fixtures simultaneously. Low pressure also presents the possibility that unexpectedly high flows (such as flow from an open hydrant) will result in complete loss of water and create backflow conditions where contaminants are drawn into the water system.

Longer-term impacts may include system-wide mandatory water restrictions during high demand and drought conditions, reduced ability to supply water to Prince George's County during emergencies and development restrictions throughout much of Montgomery and Prince George's Counties.

Based on current demands and projections, the need for the Bi-County water supply main will become evident by the end of this decade. Already, WSSC water production officials have noticed undesirable water pressure and storage level decreases in the Silver Spring area of Montgomery County.

The need for the Bi-County water supply main project was first identified in the late 1960's. Since that time, WSSC and Montgomery and Prince George's County planning agencies have been monitoring water system performance, water pressure, demand and growth patterns to determine an appropriate project implementation.

During the planning phase, WSSC will evaluate possible alignments as well as construction methods. Following planning phase completion in late 2005 / early 2006, WSSC will seek the concurrence from the Montgomery and Prince George's County Councils on the preferred alignment and construction methods. Upon approval from both Councils, WSSC will begin design work.

"Public input will be an important part of this project," added Joyner. "We will use public meetings, neighborhood briefings, web pages, quarterly customer bill inserts, fact sheets and media communications to inform and update officials, customers and other stakeholders about the project. The preferred Bi-County water supply main alignment will be selected with input from interested stakeholders."

The contract, which includes planning and design work, was awarded to Black and Veatch of Gaithersburg, Maryland and includes 30 percent minority business participation from the following firms: Peer Consultants, P.C.; McKissack & McKissack, Inc.; A. Morton Thomas & Associates, Inc.; T.L. Brown Associates, Inc.; and Dacco Sci, Inc.

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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