WSSC Braces for Increased Water Main Breaks this Winter

Event at Anacostia Depot featured pipe repair demonstration

| News Release



Laurel – November 29, 2012: The Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) faces the challenge of aging infrastructure every day, but as winter approaches WSSC is taking extra steps to prepare for a season that’s expected to be colder than last, triggering an increased number of water main breaks.

In the yard of WSSC’s Anacostia Depot in Hyattsville today, crews showed members of the media what’s involved in repairing a broken water main, a process that typically takes four to six hours once a crew is onsite.

Acting Chief of Customer Care, Derrick Phillips was also on hand and he stressed the benefits of WSSC Mobile, the Commission’s mobile application. “In the winter we can have dozens of water mains breaking in a single day,” Phillips said. “The sooner we know about the breaks, the sooner we can fix them. That’s why we’re asking our customers with smartphones to download WSSC Mobile and take advantage of the “Report a Problem” feature. All you have to do is snap a picture of the broken main and the app will automatically tell our dispatch center where we need to send a crew.”

WSSC maintains nearly 5,600 miles of water mains, that’s enough pipe to stretch from Laurel to Honolulu, Hawaii. A quarter of those mains have been in the ground more than 50 years. With colder weather moving in, more and more of those older pipes will break.

That’s why WSSC has:

  • A 24/7 rapid response call center that quickly dispatches crews.
  • More than 200 personnel strategically placed throughout Montgomery and Prince George’s counties.
  • Independent contractors on standby to assist WSSC crews.
  • The latest technology to pinpoint breaks and speed repairs.
  • Hundred of pieces of heavy equipment at the ready.

In addition to WSSC Mobile, the Commission also has a Customer Notification System (CNS) which allows you to receive text or email alerts from WSSC about water main breaks, road closures and other important WSSC information.
While WSSC is not responsible for our customers’ indoor plumbing, we feel it is important to share information that can help keep their pipes and water meters from freezing during the winter.

  • Repair broken windows, doors and walls.
  • Tightly close all doors and windows.
  • Insulate outside walls.
  • Check with your local hardware store about materials to insulate pipes and meters.
  • Seal all leaks in crawl spaces and basements.
  • Cover vents from the inside with insulation, cardboard, plastic or newspaper, if they will not close.
  • Turn off the water to outside faucets, remove hoses and drain the pipes.

If a Pipe Freezes:

  • Completely open the cold water faucet nearest the frozen pipe. This relieves the pressure and reduces the chance of breakage.
  • Use a hand-held dryer if you decide to thaw the pipe yourself.
  • If you're not certain what to do, call a registered plumber.

For our customers who take extended vacations during winter months, see the Winterizing Tips for more detailed information on winterizing your home. While no one can guarantee against frozen or broken pipes, it is important to take these preventive steps. Customers may also contact a registered Master Plumber to perform any of these winterization tips.

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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