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Sanitary Commission Braces For Winter, Gives Residents Tips

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The frigid air and gusty winds that swept in quickly over the weekend are leaving residents to dig out those heavy winter coats. The change in temperature is also causing problems for utilities.

Bitter wind chills and temperatures hanging in the 30s will stick around for the next couple of days, with overnight lows dropping in to the 20s. The frosty weather doesn't bode well for water mains.

The Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission says water pipes more than 50 years old are no match for winter weather. The utility says last February, residents reported 223 breaks and leaks and says it expects hundreds this winter.

"Right now we replace about 35 miles of water main a year and we really need to be doing about double that to keep up with our aging infrastructures. Replacing about 35 miles a year puts us on a 200-year replacement cycle and obviously pipe doesn't last that long," says Lyn Riggins, a spokesperson for the WSSC.

In a press conference Tuesday, the WSSC will announce its plan for dealing with the problem, along with tips for residents for keeping their own pipes and inside water meters from freezing and bursting.

WSSC is keeping extra crews on standby to handle additional problems.

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