Repairs complete; Chevy Chase water main likely in service by weekend -- Gazette.Net


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Repairs to a Chevy Chase water main that burst Monday night have been completed and the pipe likely will be back in service this weekend, according to Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission officials.

The repairs included replacing a 20-foot section of the five-foot pipe.

WSSC customers in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties are still under mandatory water restrictions and one northbound lane of Connecticut Avenue remained closed as of Friday.

As of around 2:30 p.m. Friday, WSSC spokesman I.J. Hudson said crews were flushing the pipe and pouring concrete over the repaired pipe at the intersection of Connecticut Avenue and Chevy Chase Lake Drive.

The cause of the break remains unknown, according to WSSC officials.

Around 1 p.m. on Monday, a county resident called the WSSC to report water flowing from Chevy Chase Lake Drive, according to WSSC officials.

An inspector was sent to the site, later followed by a three-man crew who decided that it appeared to be a leaky valve that did not require immediate repair, Hudson said.

Hudson said WSSC has to prioritize and that it takes into consideration various factors, including the temperature and if a pipe is located near a school or major intersection.

It is possible, he said, that the water flow the resident called in was related to the break on the large water main.

The valve the inspector and crew examined went to a 24-inch line that came off the five-foot line that broke, Hudson said.

A monitoring system was installed in the pipe in 2010, but did not detect a potential break in the pipe before it burst around 8 p.m. Monday, resulting in a geyser about 30 feet high and the loss of about 60 million gallons of water.

WSSC officials say, however, that the system is designed to only detect breaks related to the steel wires wrapped around the concrete pipes.

The system picks up the noises the wires make when they snap, which is a sign of corrosion.

In scenarios unrelated to the wires — including a shift in the ground or a break in the joint of a pipe — the system would have been unable to determine if something was wrong, WSSC spokesman Jim Neustadt said.

County Councilman Roger Berliner (D-Dist. 1) of Bethesda said he plans to schedule a meeting of the county Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment Committee in early April to discuss the Chevy Chase incident.

“Obviously, something went wrong,” Berliner said.

To ensure continued water supply for all WSSC customers and for fire protection and hospital uses, WSSC General Manager Jerry N. Johnson called Tuesday morning for mandatory water restrictions for all WSSC customers.

No customers are without water service, according to WSSC.

“Please don’t hoard water. We’re not running out,” Johnson said in the Tuesday release. “But if everyone can cut their water use by ten percent we should be ok. We appreciate everyone’s understanding and cooperation.”

lpowers@gazette.net