As Temperatures Drop, Water Main Breaks Increase

WSSC Water Crews Ready to Deliver Same Rapid Response to Repair Weather-Related Water Main Breaks

| News Release



Laurel, Md. – December 8, 2020 – The COVID-19 pandemic has changed many aspects of our lives, but one constant for residents of the DMV remains: winter is water main break season. As colder temperatures settle into the region, WSSC Water crews are prepared for the increase in breaks and leaks with people, pipes, trucks and tools at the ready. Every year, WSSC Water responds to approximately 1,800 water main breaks; 1,200 of them between the months of November and February. Crews have repaired nearly 200 breaks and leaks in November and are seeing a steady increase over the past few days due to the dropping temperatures.

“Winter is our busiest season and our crews are fully prepared to tackle the expected increase in breaks and leaks with the same level of urgency as in previous years,” said WSSC Water General Manager and CEO Carla A. Reid. “I assure our customers that we are fully staffed and stocked with materials, and we do not anticipate this global pandemic to slow our response and repair times.”

WSSC Water experiences an increase in water main breaks and leaks a few days after the temperature of the Potomac River hits a new low. The river is the primary source of drinking water for 1.8 million WSSC Water customers in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. When a new low temperature is reached, the colder water can shock pipes, increasing the number of breaks and leaks. This chart, which shows the connection between river temperatures and water main breaks, is monitored by crews to help anticipate a spike in breaks.

WSSC Water maintains more than 5,800 miles of water mains throughout both counties. Pipe age is a primary factor in a majority of breaks. Nearly 40 percent of the water mains in WSSC Water’s distribution system are 50 years or older. With such a large distribution system, customers are encouraged to report water main breaks and leaks as quickly as possible.

There are three simple ways to report a break or leak to WSSC Water’s 24-hour Emergency Services Center:

The “Report a Problem” feature on the mobile app allows customers to easily snap a picture of a possible water main break or leak and send it directly to the Emergency Services Center. The app uses GPS to pinpoint the location of the image, which allows dispatchers to send an inspector to the site.

WSSC Water maintains the pipes in the streets and the connections up to the property line. If a pipe in a home freezes, it is the homeowner’s responsibility to repair. For more information, including tips on what customers can do to help winterize their homes, visit

Find more information here. A video of crews repairing a winter water main break is available for download here.

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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