WSSC Monitoring Plume of a Substance Floating Down Potomac River
Potomac Water Filtration Plant Taking Precautionary Measures, No Impact on Production or Water Quality Expected
OFFICE OF COMMUNICATIONS AND COMMUNITY RELATIONS
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
LAUREL, MD – November 28, 2016: WSSC, along with other water agencies in the area, is monitoring a plume of an unidentified substance that is floating down the Potomac River. WSSC’s Potomac Water Filtration Plant has an intake along the river’s shoreline where it draws in raw water for treatment. At this point, WSSC does not expect any impact to its ability to meet customer demand, nor does it expect any adverse impact to its drinking water quality.
The plume is expected to reach the Potomac plant’s intake early Tuesday morning. In an abundance of caution, WSSC has placed a boom in the river to divert as much of the water flow away from the intake as possible. WSSC will also close the plant’s Potomac River intake overnight and will re-open it once the plume has passed, expected to be sometime Tuesday afternoon. In order to maintain water service, WSSC has filled the entire system to full capacity and has halted any maintenance activities that require flushing of pipes.
An enhanced monitoring plan has been put into place, adding additional testing of the water as it comes into the plant and before water goes out into the distribution system.
WSSC is working with multiple federal, regional, state and local agencies to monitor the situation and to provide a coordinated response. At this time the origin of the plume is unknown, as is the exact nature of the substance. Early testing indicates it could be something similar to a hydraulic fluid or lubricant. The plume was first observed near Point of Rocks, MD on Sunday.
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.
Established in 1918, today WSSC is among the largest water and wastewater utilities in the nation. We proudly serve the 1.8 million residents of Prince George’s and Montgomery counties, providing life’s most precious resource. WSSC drinking water has always met or exceeded federal standards.