WSSC implemented mandatory water restrictions for all of its customers after inspections Thursday showed a failing 96-inch water main in Montgomery County.
WSSC said the goal is to reduce water usage by about one-third. The restrictions take effect immediately and are expected to last at least through the weekend.
The 96-inch water main is located in the area of Gainsborough Road and Tuckerman Lane near Churchill High School in Potomac, Md. WSSC is taking precautions to prevent what happened when a 66-inch main broke on River Road in December 2008.
A four-foot crack found Friday morning in a Montgomery County water main hampered efforts to drain water from a portion of the main so they can replace the failing section, The Washington Post reported.
Surrounding valves have not shut tightly enough and water continues to poor into the section of pipe where workers want to replace a 16-foot section so mandatory water restrictions can be lifted, according to Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission spokeswoman Lyn Riggins.
“We’re struggling with where we can put this water safety so we can get it out of the pipe as quickly as possible,” Riggins said. “You can’t just open up a fire hydrant and drain this chlorinated water down the street” and into sensitive streams, she added.
The commission hopes to lift the restrictions at some point Monday, but in the meantime, customers should follow these guidelines:
- Stop all outside water use -- no watering lawns, no washing cars, no topping off swimming pools, no washing outdoor paved surfaces
- Use water only as necessary
- Limit flushing toilets (do not flush after every use)
- Limit using washing machines and dishwashers (wash full loads only)
- Decrease shower time
- Turn off water while shaving or brushing teeth
- Check all faucets, pipes and toilets for leaks and repair them (Leaks can waste 10 percent of a household's water use)
- Install a low-flow shower head if you don't already have one to save water and energy
Dozens of water abuses have been reported. Abusers receive warnings for first offenses but can be fined $500 for second abuses, officials said.
Car washes are not affected if they recycle their water.
The City of Rockville water system is not affected, but many city residents receive their water from WSSC, including all of King Farm, College Gardens, Plymouth Woods, as well as portions of Twinbrook, Potomac Woods, Chadsberry, Montrose and Woodley Gardens. The City of Rockville has not issued water restrictions for customers of the city's water system. Click here for a detailed map.
WSSC said it has been working with fire departments from Montgomery and Prince George's counties to make sure there is adequate fire protection, especially considering that this weekend is the Fourth of July and there will likely be numerous fireworks displays.
“We know this is a burden, especially on this holiday weekend," said WSSC GM Jerry Johnson. "But if everyone can be vigilant and cut their water use by a third, we’ll be OK.”
WSSC said water quality will not be affected, and it will notify customers once repairs are complete and mandatory restrictions are no longer necessary.
What happens if you see a violation? In Montgomery County, call 311. Your call will then be referred to the appropriate enforcement agency for follow up. Violators could receive a $500 ticket.
Fan, Follow and Text: Get the latest from NBCWashington.com anytime, anywhere. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook. Sign up for our e-mail newsletters and get breaking news delivered right to your mobile phone -- just text DCBREAKING to 622339 to sign up. (Message and data rates may apply.)