Water Main Break in College Park MD--not weather related

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As the story was reported last night on the news, the water main break was in a 30" pipe. Although the newspaper account blames it one the cold weather THE UTILITY SPOKESMAN WHO WAS BEING INTERVIEWED SAID THEY HAD NO IDEA WHY THE BREAK OCCURRED BECAUSE WEATHER CAN AFFECT THE 6" PIPES BUT NOT THE 30" MAINS.


[Posted for education and research purposes]


Water Line Break Ousts Five Families

By David S. Fallis Washington Post Staff Writer Sunday, January 30, 2000; Page B1

A torrent of icy water roared through a College Park neighborhood yesterday after a 30-inch water line ruptured, forcing five families from their homes, twisting one of the houses on its foundation and prompting residents to cobble makeshift dams from garbage bags and lumber.

The massive break closed and crumbled parts of a two-mile strip of Rhode Island Avenue, and officials of the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission said it likely will take at least two days to repair. As a winter storm begin to dump sleet onto the city, authorities went door to door inspecting as many as 50 homes, offering residents shelter and telling five families to leave because their houses needed repairs or were no longer safe.

Emergency officials said the break was reported about 6:45 a.m. and apparently occurred in a 30-inch cast iron pipe, a distributor line for fresh water serving mostly commercial businesses, located under Rhode Island Avenue near Edgewood Road. They attributed the break to the freezing ground temperatures. The Rhode Island roadbed buckled and sank as thousands of gallons of water a minute spewed from below.

It took work crews about six hours to shut off water to the area near the break. "You can't just shut it off like you slam a door," said Richard Conti, College Park city manager. "You have turn the valves down slowly. Otherwise, it creates excessive water pressure in other parts."

Washington Post

-- tt (cuddluppy@aol.com), January 31, 2000


Water breaks have been happening since man first started using water lines. Common causes are operator induced water hammering, deteriorating mechanical joint connections and ground movement among other age old causes.

The likely hood of this being y2k related is possible but highly remote.

-- ilander -- (ilander@minot.com), January 31, 2000.

My windshield wipers are starting to act up.

-- Butt Nugget (catsbutt@umailme.com), January 31, 2000.

WSSC (Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission) provides water to a couple of counties in MD. I don't know what's wrong with their water pipes, but they've been breaking/bursting for over 10 years. I'd estimate 5-6 water main breaks a year, maybe more, in any and all types of weather including sunny days in the summer. Don't count this as Y2K related. BTW I live in Northern VA and water main breaks occur much less often here.

-- slza (slzattas@erols.com), January 31, 2000.

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