UPDATE 5:35 p.m. County Councilman Roger Berliner (D-Bethesda-Potomac) says he will schedule a meeting of his Transportation & Environment Committee as soon as possible to delve into what went wrong with the Chevy Chase Lake Drive water main break.
He called the break “very troubling,” and said WSSC general manager Jerry N. Johnson indicated he would answer questions at the meeting.
Berliner spoke with Johnson after penning a letter in which he asked for details on the pipe, the last time it was inspected and if acoustic fiber optic monitoring Montgomery helped pay for was ineffective in providing an early warning about the break.
In our conversation, I asked him directly whether the state of the art equipment that was intended to monitor this type of pipe — pipe made of PCCP, which was the type of pipe that burst on River Road several years ago, had been installed on this watermain. Mr. Johnson replied in the affirmative. That response of course raises a host of other questions — including whether the equipment installed was defective or whether WSSC failed to monitor it adequately. They need to have answers, and Mr. Johnson appreciates the urgency of being able to share with our community their assessment of what went wrong. I am scheduling a T&E Committee as soon as possible to provide a forum in which these questions and others can be aired and answered.
Berliner also said the mandatory water restrictions that are still in effect because of the break bring up another issue:
These restrictions are themselves a consequence of another issue that needs to be addressed — there has been a 96 inch main out of service since November. It is the combination of that 96 inch main being down plus this latest break that necessitates the water restrictions. Why the 96 inch main has been out of service this long is very troubling in and of itself and a matter that we will certainly explore with WSSC at the hearing.
ORIGINAL As northbound Connecticut Avenue rush hour traffic crawls by, WSSC officials now say the water main break at Chevy Chase Lake Drive that has caused a significant disruption since last night was larger than first reported.
The transmission line that broke, causing an estimated 60 million gallons of water to gush about 30 feet in the air and spill into the stream below, was actually a 60-inch pipe, not a 54-inch pipe.
Pepco and Washington Gas officials had to secure power and natural gas lines near the break. Montgomery County Police were able to reopen all three southbound lanes of Connecticut Avenue at 7 a.m., but all three northbound lanes remained closed until one was reopened this afternoon.
Part of the clean-up process included dealing with an electric utility pole that fell overnight when a tree, in the rapidly eroding creek bed, fell over.
Power outages resulted from the downed wires. Power was restored throughout the morning. WSSC said no customers were without water service as of this morning.
Photos from WSSC via Facebook