Water Seeps Through WSSC’s Duckett Dam

Structure Remains Sound, Residents of Laurel Evacuated

| News Release

OFFICE OF COMMUNICATIONS AND COMMUNITY RELATIONS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Laurel – May 1, 2014: WSSC has stabilized a situation involving Duckett Dam on the Patuxent River in Laurel, MD and is confident that the structure of the dam is sound.

Late Wednesday 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 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 improve the safety of the dam, WSSC officials decided to open all seven gates of the dam to lower the levels in the reservoir. WSSC alerted Laurel officials who ordered an evacuation of citizens downstream of the dam. It is not unusual for Laurel to experience flooding during heavy rains.

The gates will remain open for several hours and WSSC will continue to monitor the water level in the reservoir. After heavy rains water continues to flow into the reservoir for several days from surrounding tributaries.

“We are confidant the dam remains in good shape. Unfortunately this was a perfect storm. We already had a construction project underway at the dam designed to make this dam even stronger, and then we get huge amount of rain,” said Jim Neustadt, WSSC Director of Communications and Community Relations. “A few months down road and this would not have been an issue.  And we deeply regret the inconveniences this has caused for the people of Laurel.”

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.

An incident like this does not affect the quality of the drinking water. 

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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