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Laurel, Md. – November 8, 2021 – Standing amid stacks of pipes, valves, trucks and tools, WSSC Water General Manager and CEO Carla A. Reid today detailed the utility’s comprehensive #WinterReady plans. Held at the utility’s Anacostia maintenance facility, the event featured frontline crews demonstrating several repair techniques to pinpoint and fix the 1,000+ water main breaks expected to occur between November and February. WSSC Water crews repair nearly 1,800 water main breaks and leaks each year, with more than 60 percent (1,100) occurring during the area’s coldest four months. WSSC Water has already repaired 51 water main breaks during the first week of November.

“COVID-19 has shone a light on the importance of accessing safe, clean and reliable water to protect public health,” said Reid. “Our crews are ready for this water main break season, and we will work around the clock to restore service to our customers as quickly as possible.”

WSSC Water crews keep a close eye on the temperature of the Potomac River during this time of year. There is a direct connection between dropping water temperatures in the Potomac River and increasing water main breaks. WSSC Water typically experiences an increase in breaks a few days after the river temperature hits a new low. This chart shows the connection between the river temperature and water main breaks.

WSSC Water maintains more than 5,800 miles of water mains covering a 1,000-square-mile area serving 1.8 million customers in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties. Approximately 40 percent of these mains are more than 50 years old. With such an extensive, aging distribution system spanning the two counties, customers are encouraged to report water main breaks and leaks as quickly as possible.

There are three simple ways to report a break:

The “Report a Problem” feature on WSSC Water’s mobile app allows customers to easily snap a picture of a water or sewer problem and send it directly to the Emergency Call Center. The application uses GPS to pinpoint the location of the image, which allows dispatchers to send an inspector to the location.

One of the nation’s largest water utilities, WSSC Water spends approximately $16 million each year for emergency water main repairs, with about $9.5 million spent November through February.

WSSC Water maintains the pipes in the streets and the connections up to the property line. If a pipe on private property or inside a home/business freezes, it is the property owner’s responsibility to repair it.

What to do if a home plumbing pipe freezes:

  • Completely open the cold water faucet nearest the frozen pipe to relieve pressure and reduce the chance of a rupture.
  • Use a hand-held dryer if you decide to thaw the pipe yourself.
  • When in doubt, call a registered plumber.

Homeowner winterization tips:

  • Keep the temperature inside your home above 55 degrees.
  • Turn off the water to outside faucets, remove hoses and drain the pipes.
  • Ask your local hardware store about pipe insulation.
  • On colder nights, open cabinet doors to expose pipes to the home’s heat.

Find more #WinterReady information 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.