Mild January meant fewer water main breaks for Maryland utility

January’s mild temperatures brought good news for a Maryland water utility in the form of fewer water main breaks.

“There’s a direct relation between the water temperature that we pull from the Potomac and Patuxent rivers and a spike in breaks, and because we’ve had such a mild January and February so far, we’re definitely seeing a downward trend in water main breaks,” said the WSSC Water’s Jerry Irvine.

“January of this year we had 161. Comparing that to last year, where we had 305, that’s a really significant drop,” he said.

January 2018 was very busy for repair crews. “We had 802 breaks, so we’ve seen much, much worse Januarys,” Irvine said.

Here are some month-by-month water main break totals from WSSC Water:

Last winter (2018/19)

  • November — 248
  • December — 248
  • January — 305
  • February — 190

This winter (2019/20)

  • November — 285
  • December — 360
  • January — 161
  • February (through Feb. 12) — 30

With temperatures expected to fall later this week, Irvine has advice for customers.

“The biggest thing that people should know is that we don’t have monitoring devices throughout our vast water main system,” he said. “If you see water bubbling up or if you see something more severe than that … like water shooting out somewhere, we often rely on our customers to be our eyes and ears out there.”

To reach WSSC Water’s emergency call center, dial 301-206-4002, email or go to WSSC Water’s website.

WSSC Water has some 475,000 customers in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties.

The utility has the following tips to protect your water pipes during the winter.

Michelle Basch

Michelle Basch is a reporter turned morning anchor at WTOP News.

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