Water Release from Duckett Dam Significantly Reduced

WSSC Appreciates the Cooperation of the Affected Residents in Laurel

| News 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.

Duckett Dam - Open
Thursday morning, May 1, 2014
Fully Open
Duckett Dam - Partially Open
Thursday afternoon, May 1, 2014
Partially Open

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.


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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