July 2, 2010

Large crack found in water pipe

Workers found a 4-foot crack in a major Montgomery County water main Friday morning, but are now struggling with valve problems as they try to drain at least a half million gallons of chlorinated water without damaging the nearby natural environment. 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.

They have been sending some water down a much smaller sewer line, and are considering dumping it through de-chlorination pads on fields nearby. They are also “exercising” the valves – basically opening and closing them – in hopes of getting a better seal so more water doesn’t keep coming in, Riggins said.

“We’re not getting a really good shutdown right now,” she said. “It’s a little bit of a battle right there.”

About 1.8 million people in Montgomery and Prince George's counties have been ordered to stop watering their lawns and washing their cars and limit their use of toilets, dishwashers and washing machines through the Fourth of July weekend after officials shut down a huge water main in Potomac on Thursday. Still, Riggins said the commission is estimates the mandatory restrictions will last at least four days.

“We can’t lift the restrictions until we get this main back into service,” she said. “We’d hope to be able to lift them at some point on Monday.” SOURCE: Washington Post

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