The Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission said unusually cold temperatures has caused 79 water main breaks in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties.
Because of the water main breaks, water has been cut off to parts of Prince George’s County including to parts of Temple Hills, Suitland, Camp Springs, Oxon Hill and Hyattsville. While water service has not been cut off to Montgomery County, there are still 40 water main breaks in the County.
“It’s to be expected,” said WSSC spokesperson Luis Maya about the freezing temperature causing a significant amount of water main breaks.
Water main breaks are a typical phenomenon locally with about 1,800 a year on average according to WSSC the majority in the winter months from November to February. Water main breaks are often caused by cold temperature, which cause pipes to freeze making them more susceptible to breaks. Maya said the 79 water mains are currently in need of repair are particular high number, which is most likely caused by the abnormally cold temperatures.
During the week, temperatures reached below 10 degree Fahrenheit in the Montgomery County, unusually low for the Washington Metropolitan Region.
“When we know that when this cold weather comes we are on high alert,” Maya said of WSSC’s water main repair crews which are on call 24/7.
Maya said the water main breaks are not concentrated to any particular areas of either Montgomery or Prince George’s counties, saying water main breaks are throughout counties.
The pipes most vulnerable to breaking are WSSC’s older ones, some sating back to the 1920s. WSSC estimates that 40 percent of their water mains are more than 50 years old. Often the water main breaks are due to a combination factors including of old water mains and cold temperatures.
Maya said there are two kinds of water main breaks circle breaks and split breaks. Maya said circle breaks are much easier to repair and typically take crews four to six hours to fix, while split breaks take crew significantly longer to repair usually eight to 10 hours.
Those that see a water main break can call WSSC with the location of the break at 301-206-4002.