Downed Power Lines Puts Water Main Repairs On Hold In Chevy Chase

5:04 PM, Mar 19, 2013   |    comments
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CHEVY CHASE, Md. (WUSA9) -- One outbound lane is now open on Connecticut Avenue in Chevy Chase, after a massive water main break snarled traffic coming and going Tuesday.

The break in the 54 inch main bled out 60 million gallons of water, about a third of the WSSC total daily usage, in about 4.5 hours Monday night. It sent water geysering 30 feet in the air.

A downed tree that took out power lines briefly stalled workhas put the brakes on water main repair work. Crews finally reopened one outbound lane at about 4pm, but traffic leaving town was still a mess.

Jim Neustadt, a spokesman for WSSC, says the break occurred in the transmission line near the intersection of Connecticut Avenue and Chevy Chase Lake Drive around 8:00 Monday evening. Natural gas and electric lines run alongside the water main.

The break is in a pre-stressed concrete pipe that was popular back in the 1970s and 1980s. It turned out pipe made that way degraded more quickly.

The pipe had an acoustic monitoring cable inside to offer an early warning of breaks. But it's still unclear if there was any warning of thiis impending disaster. 

WSSC customers are being advised to not hoard water since there is no chance they will run out. However, WSSC officials are asking all customers to reduce their water use by ten percent. The mandatory water restrictions are in place to allow the system to replenish while the large transmission line is being repaired. The water company estimates 60-million gallons of water was lost due to the break. Currently no customers are without water service.

According to a press release sent out by WSSC, the break occurred in a pre-stressed concrete cylinder pipe which was put into service around 1980. So far WSSC has not been able to determine the exact cause of the break.

Until repairs are complete, WSSC says it is imperative that all business and residential customers use water only as necessary. This means shorter showers and turning off faucets after washing hands and while brushing teeth. WSSC also suggests customers limit flushing toilets as much as possible. Other suggestions include putting off washing clothes and limiting use of dishwashers. These mandatory water restrictions apply to all WSSC customers, residential and business, in Prince George's and Montgomery counties. A violation carries a fine of up to $500 fine.

Stay tuned to WUSA*9 and WUSA9.COM for updates on this developing story.

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