WSSC Commissioners Accept Committee's Report on Large-Diameter Water Mains

| News Release



Laurel – May 23, 2014:  WSSC's Commissioners accepted the report of the Ad-Hoc Committee on Large-Diameter Water Mains at its monthly meeting on Wednesday, May 21. The committee produced 21 specific recommendations, focused on the broad categories of prevention of large-diameter water main breaks, mitigation of these types of breaks, and emergency response and community outreach in the wake of these large scale events.

The Ad-Hoc Committee was formed in 2013 in response to questions and concerns raised by a range of stakeholders regarding a WSSC proposal to require builders to employ risk mitigation strategies, including engineering and distance solutions, when planning to build a new structure near large-diameter water mains.

The WSSC recommendation originated due to concern over the increased amount of development in the proximity of large-diameter water mains. Most notably, in 2008, a 66-inch water main ruptured along River Road in Bethesda, which required helicopter assisted rescues of a number of motorists. In response to that pre-stressed concrete cylinder pipe (PCCP) failure and concerns over similar failures, WSSC increased the number of inspection and mitigation program for these pipes. The committee report recognizes the expertise and national reputation WSSC has developed in this area.

Specific recommendation examples include more robust use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and other technology to update pipe inventory as it relates to potential break impacts, continued information sharing with individual developers through early stage meetings, and collaboration with county planners at both master and project planning levels to ensure they are informed in order to work with developers to mitigate identified risks as appropriate.

"This was a challenging, but very collaborative and productive process, bringing together all the important stakeholders this issue affects," said Jerry N. Johnson, General Manager/CEO of WSSC.

The Ad-Hoc Committee began its formal deliberations on April 23, 2013. It held its last meeting on March 31, 2014. On April 16, 2014, the committee facilitator, Indiggo Associates, provided a briefing on the committee’s work and presented the executive summary and the report recommendations at WSSC's Commission Meeting. The final report was submitted in May. It can be viewed on the WSSC website.

"The primary concern has always been the safety of our customers and residents and I am confident the need for public safety has been met,"said Gene Counihan, Chair of WSSC’s Commission. "I am also gratified to see that the members of the committee came to recognize WSSC's expertise in the area of PCCP and the technology related to mitigation."

With the formal acceptance of the report, the Commissioners are tasking WSSC staff with analyzing and studying the recommendations and reporting on the feasibility.

Johnson told the Commissioners he and his staff would review each of the recommendations for operational and budgetary feasibility and report back to them in a work session later in the year.

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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