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Officials Say That Water Outage In Prince George's County Has Been Averted

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Crisis averted: no water outages in Prince George's County during repairs on 54-inch water main.
WAMU/Matt Bush
Crisis averted: no water outages in Prince George's County during repairs on 54-inch water main.

In a surprising reversal, the general manager of the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission announced this afternoon that customers in portions of Prince George's County will not experience expected water outages while a 54-inch water main is repaired.

Officials had prepared hundreds of thousands of residents in southern and western portions of Prince George's County for between three and five days of no water at all, prompting a rush on supermarkets and the establishment of a number of water distribution sites.

But on Wednesday afternoon commission officials said that they had succeeded in repairing a valve that will allow water to be diverted from other segments of the system to the affected area.

"Late last night, dedicated WSSC workers 'unfroze' and closed a key valve near the failing pipe," said the WSSC in a statement. "This greatly reduced the amount of pipeline that had to be shut down to make repairs to the failing 54-inch Forestville pipe. This means if customers continue to conserve, WSSC will be able to repair the failing pipe with no disruption in service."

The commission said that earlier attempts to open the valve had failed, leading them to warn of outages affecting a large swath of the county from Andrews Air Force Base to the Potomac River.

WSSC General Manager Jerry Johnson announced that water restrictions would remain in place—no outside water use is allowed and residents are urged to avoid long showers, limit the flushing of toilets and not use dishwashers or washing machines.

"If we continue to conserve, we're confident that the system will remain full while we complete the repairs on the pipe and return it to service. We have averted a major disaster," he said.

He says if people follow the water restrictions, it will soon be business as usual for residents in southern Prince George's County.

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