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WSSC Continues To Defend Handling Of Prince George's Co. Water Crisis

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The water was not entirely shut off as expected in southern Prince George's County.
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The water was not entirely shut off as expected in southern Prince George's County.

The head of the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission continues to defend how his agency handled this week's possible water shortage in Prince George's County.

General Manager Jerry Johnson says they did not announce a valve fix that averted the shortage until yesterday afternoon because they were not sure it was going to work until then. The potential fix was known to the WSSC over the weekend, when signs the 54-inch water main in Forestville, Md., was going to fail started.

Johnson says that had they announced the possibility of the fix earlier, residents may not have heeded warnings to stockpile water in case the shortage did happen.

"I think that people would have probably changed their habits and not done the conservation that needed to be done," Johnson says. "I emphasize that we had no assurance that we were going to be successful with what we were trying to do. That did not happen until Wednesday morning."

Tuesday's warnings of a multi-day shortage led to businesses shutting down and residents snapping up large amounts of bottled water at stores. But in the end, they didn't need it. Johnson still says the warnings were necessary.

"I think that would have been fairly foolhardy and irresponsible to have told someone to not prepare for this worst case scenario, when we didn't have any information at hand to say to them that we could have the operation up and running," he says.

The mandatory water restrictions that remain in place will likely stay that way through the weekend.

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