Cold Snap Busting Water Mains Throughout the Area

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Bone-chilling weather causes dozens of water pipes to burst across the Washington area, affecting water service and traffic. (Published Wednesday, Dec 8, 2010)

    Water pipes throughout the Washington region broke overnight as temperatures plunged.

    The bitter cold causes frigid water in the pipes to expand, causing cracks and breaks. It happened in the District on Wisconsin Avenue at Newark Street in Northwest; in Virginia, where Fairfax County crews were out fixing pipes; and in Montgomery County, along Goldsboro Road.

    Montgomery County crews needed all day to trace the leak to the source of the break. Goldsboro was closed to traffic between Massachusetts Avenue and MacArthur Boulevard. Vehicles were detoured around the work area.

    There were 22 water main breaks being repaired at the same time. There have been 119 pipe repairs in Montgomery and Prince George's counties since the month began.

    Rudy Chow, chief of customer care for the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, said when they have this many breaks to work on "the crews give a priority to the worst leaks" and get to the rest as soon as possible.

    In Silver Spring, water pressure dropped for hours as crews repaired a leak on Lanier Drive.

    In Bethesda, an eight-inch pipe broke on Armat Drive, coating the road with a slippery sheet of ice.

    This week, WSSC demonstrated its strategy to fix water main breaks in a system that has 5,500 of pipes that are 50 years old.

    "It's a year round problem, but it's worse in the winter," said WSSC Maintenance Unit Coordinator Tim Duval. "Everything gets icy."

    More breaks are expected overnight as temperatures are expected to stay low.