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Two wastewater overflows occur on WSSC property

  • Published in State

Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission officials said tens of thousands of gallons of wastewater spilled each in two separate instances near an Upper Marlboro wastewater treatment plant Saturday.

WSSC crews placed warning signs at the sites of two separate overflows that occurred near the Western Branch Wastewater Treatment Plant in Upper Marlboro Saturday.

“We posted signs at both sites, and we cleaned the affected area (s),” WSSC spokesperson Ayoka Blandford said.

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Council questions WSSC rate structure change

  • Published in Local

LAUREL – A change in county water bills is almost certainly coming, but exactly how much more (or less) residents will pay is still to be determined.

On March 30, the Prince George’s County Council Transportation, Housing and Environment Committee (THE) held a joint meeting with their counterpart from the Montgomery County Council, the Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment (T&E) committee to hear from Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission staff about progress on the utility’s rate structure study. WSSC has to change the rate structure to remain financially viable, officials say.

“There’s always this tension between having enough revenue to meet the needs for providing the services, both water and sewer, but also on the capital side,” said Council member Todd Turner, chair of THE. “People are consuming less water, so because the revenues aren’t coming in because of the consumption, what are you going to do? Unfortunately, nothing goes down in cost, it seems like, so in making that (increase) reasonable, there’s a balance that we have to find as part of this process.”

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Gaithersburg gets legislative update

  • Published in Local

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GAITHERSBURG—Mayor Jud Ashman and the City Council were briefed Monday night about several issues of concern to the city in the current state legislative session. Monica Marquina, the city’s legislative affairs director, and Rob Garagiola, of the lobbying firm Alexander and Cleaver, which represents Gaithersburg, discussed their efforts working with the legislature thus far and their goals for the remaining third of the session where, Garagiola said, “90 percent of the work is still ahead.”

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Public weighs in on WSSC rates

  • Published in Local

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ROCKVILLE – Last week was one of the final chances for the public to weigh in on the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission proposed rate increase for water.

As part of its proposed Fiscal Year $1.4 billion 2018 budget, WSSC plans to raise water and sewer rates by 3.5 percent. The budget covers both operating and capital costs. The increase would add an additional $1.46 to the monthly bill of the average WSSC ratepayer who uses 137 gallons of water per day.

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Unknown chemicals may pose water supply risk

  • Published in Local

As it turns out, the old adage may be right – what you don’t know can harm you.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates 83 contaminants as part of its primary standard on drinking water.

These contaminants include lead, trihalomethanes, asbestos, bacteria and viruses, which if above a certain level, are a risk to human health.

But the EPA also has another list of 30 contaminants that agency monitors but does not regulate.

For many of these contaminants the science is unclear whether they are a health risk to people, while others clearly pose a risk to people.

“The only concern is something we don’t already know, that just started coming up in the newspaper and we don’t know how to test for it or something some people may say it’s bad, but we don’t know whether it’s really bad,” said Jin Shin a water quality manager at the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC), the primary water utility for people in Montgomery and Prince George's Counties.

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County Council weighs in on WSSC infrastructure

  • Published in Local

With 1,800 breaks a year on average in the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission's (WSSC) infrastructure system, members of the Montgomery County Council said there needs to be more investment in the utility’s infrastructure.

WSSC’s water mains and pipes are often susceptible to breaks. About 25 percent of WSSC’s water mains are 50 years are older.

To keep sediment and other containments out of the water mains, WSSC pumps water at a high pressure.

“I kind of look at it as the Metro of water,” said Council member Marc Elrich (D-At large).

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"Disaster Waiting To Happen"

  • Published in Local

"Water Supply Challenges" Part Four of Five: Water infrastructure challenged by lack of spending and low utility rates

Faucet Running Water

More than 1,800 water mains throughout the Washington Suburban Sanitation Commission system are breaking annually, according to WSSC spokesperson Jerry Irvine.

Meanwhile, a six-month investigation by The Sentinel Newspapers revealed a number of containments in city water, well water and surface water at 50 sites throughout Montgomery County and Prince George’s counties.

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Letters to the Editor, October 13, 2016

Robots and the school year?

To the editor;

“OK, robot waitress.  Your first recommendation was the slow baked salmon with lemon and thyme.    I’ll try that.  With the peas and carrots.  By the way, that is a snazzy outfit you’re wearing…. You’re welcome. ”  

In a few years conversations like this will become common.   More broadly, robots will increasingly perform many jobs now performed by humans.   We may expect that the robots generally will first be used to do repetitive physical jobs.   Jobs remaining available to humans will involve greater complexity and skill.  Less skilled humans will have a harder time finding work.   New kinds of human jobs will be created more slowly than traditional jobs disappear.

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WSSC rates called "Unfair"

  • Published in Local

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ROCKVILLE – Calling the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission’s (WSSC) rates unfair, WSSC customer testified against the company’s rate structure last week during a Montgomery County Council public hearing on the utility’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget.

At the hearing, WSSC customers testified to the council about what they called an unfair rate structure, calling for the Council to restructure how WSSC charges its customers.

“The ball is now squarely in your court, and that of the (Prince George’s) County Council, to move ahead to assure a reasonable rate structure is implemented that treats all of WSSC’s residential ratepayers, your constituents, fairly” said Richard Boltuck, a resident of Bethesda.

“Perhaps that will not happen in FY ‘18, but there are simply no remaining excuses for it be delayed beyond FY ‘19. For that to happen, however, you must insist clearly and unequivocally to WSSC now that this council will not approve an unduly discriminatory rate structure next year.”

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Okay it really isn't that sexy

Faucet Running Water

Mayor Bridget Newton of Rockville nailed it.

Infrastructure “isn’t sexy.”

It’s one of those issues that attracts about as much attention as a quiet yawn in Church.

You know it’s there, but you pretend it isn’t – that is until it fails.

The residents of the Washington D.C. Metro area are only too familiar what happens then.

Our subway cars burst into flames. Our exploding water mains create previously unknown and definitely unwanted white-water rafting rides on local city streets.

The power goes out and on occasion homes explode or burst into flames.

Of all the natural resources at man’s disposal, however, it is how we treat our water supply that should be of most concern.

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