A massive water main break in Chevy Chase, Md., forced the closure of Connecticut Avenue and imposed mandatory water restrictions on Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) customers in two counties.
The break is affecting rush hours, as all but one of the northbound lanes of Connecticut Avenue remained closed between Manor Road and Dunlop Street as of 4 p.m. Tuesday.
Three southbound lanes reopened shortly after 7 a.m. Tuesday, but the damage was done -- backups along Connecticut Avenue were as long as the eye could see, reported News4's Tony Tull.
The 60-inch water transmission pipe attached to a 54-inch line broke about 8 p.m. Monday at Chevy Chase Lake Drive, where water gushed 30 feet in the air.
"It was unbelievable," said Anne Nelson, who lives on nearby Chevy Chase Lakes Drive. "I'd never seen that much water. I couldn't believe it was coming from one place." Nelson had to park her car two blocks away on Connecticut Avenue and walked home.
The water toppled a power line, and although few customers lost power, Nelson said she was among them.
Crews from Washington Gas and Pepco had to secure the natural gas and electric lines that run along the water main before WSSC could begin their work on the water main.
Crews had a scare shortly before 5:20 a.m. when a tree came down at the scene due to the saturated ground. The tree brought down some additional power lines, which dashed hopes for a 6 a.m. road opening.
WSSC put their own work on hold while Pepco assessed the damage and secured the fallen lines.
WSSC told News4 Wedesday they've pulled out some sections of broken pipe and the actual repair process could begin Wednesday night. It will take several days to fix.
Also complicating Tuesday's evening commute, an 8-inch water main break closed lanes on River Road between Bradley Boulevard and Persimmon Tree Road in Rockville, where repairs continued until almost 9 p.m.
WATER RESTRICTIONS IN MARYLAND
While there are no water reported water outages, all WSSC customers in Prince George's and Montgomery counties are required to restrict usage until repairs are complete.
WSSC says all residential and commercial customers must:
- Use water only as necessary -- i.e., take shorter showers and turn off faucets after washing hands and while brushing teeth.
- Limit flushing toilets (do not flush after every use).
- Put off washing clothes if possible.
- Limit the use of dishwashers and wash only full loads.
The restrictions could last up to a week, WSSC said. A violation carries a fine of up to $500 fine.
WSSC said in a release it has been working with fire departments from both counties to ensure adequate fire protection.
"Please don't hoard water. We're not running out," said General Manager Jerry N. Johnson. "But if everyone can cut their water use by 10 percent, we should be OK. We appreciate everyone's understanding and cooperation."
Officials said the pipes are old -- circa 1980 -- but did not give a cause for the break.
There is no timeline for repairs, WSSC said.
Stay with News4 and NBCWashington.com for the latest.