The Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission has warned residents of the Maryland suburbs of the nation's capital to sharply curtail their water use , after a monitoring system picked up the sound of reinforcing steel snapping inside the concrete of a 96-inch water main. The Washington Post reports:
The pipe is similar to a 66-inch concrete main that burst along River Road in Bethesda in late 2008, stranding cars amid a torrent of frigid water and requiring motorists to be rescued by helicopter and firefighters in boats.
To avoid another catastrophic blowout, the WSSC is shutting down a three-quarter-mile stretch of the main and digging out the crumbling section of pipe. While that's going on, people are supposed to stop watering things outside, avoid using dishwashers and washing machines, take showers instead of baths, and " limit flushing toilets (do not flush after every use) ."
The usage restrictions are intended to preserve pressure in the system, according to the Post, so firefighters have enough water to work with:
Prince George's fire spokesman Mark Brady said the department has enough water to battle typical house fires, but he said the ruptured main could create difficulties for larger two- or three-alarm blazes.
The 41-year-old main is only the latest victim of the WSSC's water, which
tends to destroy whatever plumbing is unfortunate enough to carry it