Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission members on Wednesday approved $12 million in funding to deal with the “unusual” number and pace of water mains breaks in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties this winter, which have put both jurisdictions on course to see a record number this winter.
“It is absolutely an unusual a high number of breaks,” said Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission spokesman Jerry Irvine. At least 1000 water mains across both counties have ruptured since Dec. 1, at great inconvenience not only to WSSC customers but to the repair crews who have had to remain on call for 24 hours.
The pace at which mains are breaking puts the area on course for a total much higher than the usual average of 1,200 breaks between December and March. WSSC saw an average of 100 breaks a day at the peak of the cold snap that gripped the area from late December through early January. But according to Irvine, as temperatures have warmed slightly the number of breaks per day is back down to the “more reasonable” 35 per day, because the number of breaks tends to level off when temperature remains constant and there are not rapid changes in temperature.
“Once the system has been shocked by the original blast of cold water we're kind of steady state,” he said.