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WSSC marks one-year anniversary of River Road break
In December 2009, the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) marked the one-year anniversary of the River Road water main break by highlighting the state-of-the-art technology the Commission is using to try to prevent future large main breaks.
On Dec. 23, 2008, at approximately 7:55 a.m., a 66-inch water main transporting 150,000 gallons of water a minute burst near the 8500 block of River Road, instantly turning the roadway into a river and trapping several drivers in their cars. Thanks to the efforts of Montgomery County Fire and Rescue, a potential tragedy was averted. Video of the break played around the world and River Road was closed for eight days while repairs were conducted.
WSSC General Manager Jerry N. Johnson and Chief Engineer Gary Gumm were joined by Pure Technologies President Mark Holley to explain and demonstrate what WSSC has been doing to help prevent future River Roads through the implementation of its large main inspection program.
The program uses “SmartBall” technology, where a high-tech microphone inserted into large mains to find leaks while they are in service carrying water; visual inspections by staff physically inside the mains; “P-Wave” electromagnetic monitoring to pinpoint weaknesses; and acoustic fiber optic monitoring to warn WSSC of distressed areas well in advance of future breaks.
A total of 21.9 miles of large mains has been equipped with acoustic fiber optic monitoring, with 12.9 additional miles slated for inspection and acoustic fiber optic installation in 2010.