WSSC Expects No Impact from Latex Spill into North Branch of the Potomac River
Ongoing Rainfall is Diluting the Chemical as it Travels Down River
OFFICE OF COMMUNICATIONS AND COMMUNITY RELATIONS
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
LAUREL, MD – October 1, 2015: At this point, WSSC does not anticipate any impact on the quality of the water it draws from the Potomac River as the result of a synthetic latex spill into the North Branch of the river that occurred near Luke, Md., last Wednesday, September 23. The recent heavy rains are expected to dramatically dilute the chemical, as well as speed its travel down the river.
The chemical spill (plume) is expected to reach the WSSC Potomac Water Filtration Plant’s intake as early as this weekend. WSSC staff will continue to coordinate with Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) and the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin (ICPRB) to monitor water sample testing along the plume’s path.
“As we constantly communicate with our regional water utility partners upstream, we are being told the amount of chemicals in the water has been significantly diluted at this point,” said Jerry N. Johnson, WSSC General Manager/CEO. “In an abundance of caution, we will continue to monitor the situation, but we expect by the time the chemical travels to our intake it will be nearly undetectable by our water quality testing team.”
A recommended solution to this type of spill is to enhance coagulation as part of the water treatment process. Coagulation removes dirt and other particles suspended in the water. This also happens to be standard procedure in the event of a major storm event, such as the impending impact of Hurricane Joaquin. In addition to enhanced coagulation, WSSC will fill the entire water system and minimize the amount of water produced at the Potomac Plant as the plume passes by the intake. A robust monitoring plan is also in place, including testing as water comes into the plant and after the treatment process before water goes into the distribution system.
The Potomac Water Filtration Plant produces approximately 70 percent of WSSC’s treated water each day for customers across Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. The Patuxent Water Filtration Plant supplies the remainder to WSSC’s customers.
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.