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WSSC Restricts Water Use, Repairs Damaged Pipe

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By Natalie Neumann

Maryland's Montgomery and Prince George's Counties in Maryland are still under water restrictions, including no outdoor water use and limited indoor use.

Crews working to repair a 96-inch pipe in Potomac say the burden on customers could have been much worse if sensors hadn't detected the problem when they did.

Water empties from the service pipe blocks away from where crews are working. The pipe has wires wrapped around it to help withstand water pressure.

Early Thursday morning a fiberoptic cable began detecting breaks in those wires --- and alerted crews to a problem. This morning crews found a 4-foot crack in the water main.

WSSC General Manager Jerry Johnson says without the early warning --- the pipe may have broken -- creating a disaster worse than the flood caused by a break in a 66-inch pipe on River Road in 2008.

"This pipe, given it's size, its about a third larger than the pipe on River Road, would have been much, much worse," Johnson says.

Melissa Kupferschmid lives a little more than a mile from the repair site.

"We were on vacation and got home yesterday so it was a little disconcerting to see brown water in our toliet bowls," she says.

But Kupferschmid says she has no problems restricting her family's water use.

Johnson says the restrictions will continue until the repairs on the pipe are complete.

"We're using a much smaller pipe to deliver water to the same service area, so having less water we are asking people to use less volume of water over the course of the repair cycle," he says.

Johnson says crews are working around the clock and expects work to be complete by Monday.

Meanwhile, police in both counties are issuing warnings and fines for those not following the limited water use.

Fines could be as much as $500.

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