Water Release from Duckett Dam Significantly Reduced
WSSC Appreciates the Cooperation of the Affected Residents in Laurel
OFFICE OF COMMUNICATIONS AND COMMUNITY RELATIONS
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Laurel – May 1, 2014: Throughout the course of the day Thursday, WSSC has significantly reduced the amount of water being released from the T. Howard Duckett Dam on the Patuxent River in Laurel and remains confident that the structure of the dam is sound.
The release of water began Sunday, ahead of the rain and increased as the reservoir levels rose. Late Wednesday night a dam inspector noticed that water was seeping through a joint where concrete from the dam meets the road that goes over the dam. This was due to the heavy rainfall and the rapidly rising water level of the Rocky Gorge Reservoir. The water coming through the joint was eroding soil around a dam buttress below. Concern was heightened because there is a construction project at the dam.
To ensure the safety of the dam, WSSC officials decided to open all seven gates of the dam to lower the levels in the reservoir. WSSC began to communicate with the City of Laurel and other surrounding jurisdictions on Monday that a release of water was imminent and remained in constant contact with Laurel and other local and state agencies in the region. Late Wednesday night, WSSC informed the City of Laurel, as well as officials in Anne Arundel and Prince George’s counties, of the need to dramatically increase the release of water due to concerns about the integrity of the dam. Laurel officials then ordered an evacuation of citizens downstream of the dam. It is not unusual for Laurel to experience flooding during heavy rains.
The evacuation order was lifted at 8:00 a.m. on Thursday as WSSC began to reduce the amount of water being released. WSSC will continue to monitor the situation and reduce the amount of water being released over the next few days.
At the height of the release, approximately 63,000 gallons of water per second were being released from Duckett Dam. That dropped to 28,000 gallons per second Thursday morning and is now down to about 15,000 gallons per second.
WSSC appreciates the cooperation of the citizens of Laurel and regrets the inconvenience caused by the release of water, however maintaining the structural integrity of the dam is paramount for WSSC and in situations where there is significant rainfall there is often a need to release water.
Duckett Dam, which can be seen easily from I-95 just north of the Beltway in Maryland, forms the Rocky Gorge Reservoir that is a primary source of drinking water for hundreds of thousands of WSSC customers. For several days WSSC has been releasing water from Duckett to lower the reservoir levels in preparation of the expected heavy rain. WSSC has done the same at the Brighton Dam, which forms the Triadelphia Reservoir further upstream on the Patuxent River.
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.