D.C.

Connecticut Avenue water main break: Water restrictions remain in place

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It's been over 24 hours now since a large water main, that runs under Chevy Chase Lake Drive, buckled, leaving thousands with limited clean water. The damage was so extensive, it even knocked out power and gas lines for dozens of apartments and homes.

The break, which sent a huge geyser into the sky Monday, left major erosion damage. Photo: WSSC

"There's no gas...so there's no heat...no hot water,” said Chevy Chase resident Jeffrey Adler. “I've got to go to my relative's house to shower," he added.

An aging 60 inch pipe ruptured Monday night, sending a geyser several stories high. For over nearly five hours, it pumped some 60 million gallons of water out—a ripple effect that brought down a huge tree, taking down power lines.

"Chevy Chase Lake drive was definitely compromised...it's the main area where the pipe was blown and where the excavation work is," said WSSC Spokesperson Kira Lewis.

Once the pipe is repaired, then, the wide and deep crater left on the busy Connecticut Ave. must once again be turned into a road. Traffic in the area has been yet another added nuisance and headache. The good news, however, is that one lane has been reopened on Connecticut Ave.

WSSC officials say the break happened just after 8 p.m. on Monday. The water main was installed in 1980 and is the sort of pipe WSSC has had a problem with for years. Engineers blame premature corrosion for the break. Fortunately, few homes lost water pressure. But mandatory water restrictions are in place because of the loss of so much stored water.

Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) General Manager Jerry Johnson Tuesday called for the mandatory water restrictions, which could last up to a week.

Other utilities were also affected by the water main break. Natural gas and electric lines run alongside the water main. Employees from Washington Gas and PEPCO are at the site securing those lines so work on the water main can begin.

“Please don’t hoard water. We’re not running out,” said Johnson. “But if everyone can cut their water use by 10 percent we should be ok. We appreciate everyone's understanding and cooperation."

The mandatory water restrictions are necessary to allow the system to replenish while the pipe is repaired. Repairs could take days to complete, and northbound traffic on Connecticut Avenue will be affected for the duration.

Until repairs are complete, WSSC advises customers to:

• Use water only as necessary – i.e., 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

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