As Temperatures Drop, WSSC Crews Prepared to Tackle Increased Water Main Breaks

| News Release



Laurel – January 6, 2014: This week’s cold snap is a strong reminder that extreme cold combined with WSSC’s aging infrastructure is a recipe for water main breaks. An increase in breaks is also more likely with a sudden change in temperatures.

One-third of WSSC’s water pipes are more than 50 years old. When colder than normal water starts moving through old and brittle pipes a spike in breaks and leaks is likely to occur. Water in the Potomac River is the coldest it has been all season and will no doubt get colder tonight. Water consumption is above normal over the last few days, which means an increased amount of colder water will enter the system. In response to this increased demand, WSSC is in the process of filling up its water tanks, something it normally does during the evening hours.

WSSC prepares each winter for this increase in maintenance needs. With dozens of water main breaks today, and several hundred more expected in the coming months, WSSC aims to limit the inconvenience to the nearly 1.8 million residents it serves by:

  • Having crews that normally replace water mains prepared to repair breaks;
  • Operating a 24/7 rapid response center for emergency calls: 1-800-828-6439 or (301) 206-4002;
  • Strategically positioning 200+ trained personnel in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties;
  • Maintaining hundreds of pieces of heavy equipment;
  • Keeping independent contractors standing by whenever necessary; and
  • Alerting customers through WSSC’s Customer Notification System (CNS) when breaks affect service and daily routines. (Customers must register for the Customer Notification System).

November was the busiest month of 2013, with 337 breaks and leaks. Overall, WSSC crews repaired 1,691 broken and leaking mains in 2013, which is slightly above the 1,601 in 2012, but below the record high of 2,126 set in 2007. This chart shows how cold temperatures correspond to water main breaks and leaks.

Customers can check on service alerts, report a problem (even send a photo) or pay their bill with WSSC’s mobile app. WSSC’s Service Alert page shows active repair jobs on an interactive map that allows users to search by address.

Frigid temps can also cause pipes to freeze and burst. For prevention tips and to learn what to do if pipes do freeze, customers can visit WSSC’s web site.

WSSC Water is the proud provider of safe, seamless and satisfying water services, making the essential possible every day for our neighbors in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. We work to deliver our best because it’s what our customers expect and deserve.

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