Demanding answers after crippling Md. water main break

WASHINGTON – The intersection looked like a lake. And while it was fitting at the cross-streets of Connecticut Avenue and Chevy Chase Lake Drive last March — it was an irony lost on some 200 homeowners who lost service.

The 60-inch pipe water main break caused water restrictions that severely impacted the Chevy Chase Lake community for four days.

The Montgomery County Council is reviewing what led to the break and demanding answers from the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission after the pipe’s acoustic fiber optic monitoring equipment — installed in 2010 — failed to signal a warning of a potential problem.

The council pointed to a break down in communication between the WSSC and the county during the water main break.

“Tell us why you would not have naturally said to yourselves, ‘Maybe we should sit down with the governments and ask what they need to get from us,'” said council member Roger Berliner.

In response, WSSC general manager Jerry Johnson said it was his decision to issue a change in protocols for emergency response in lieu of a quarterly report about the break.

“If that was in error then, you know you might view it that way, but I wanted to get it done expeditiously and set staff about getting it done,” Johnson said.

Going forward, local leaders will have accounts set up so they can check the status of a water main break and the level of impact when an emergency happens.

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