Thousands of gallons of sewage spill into Potomac tributary

Sewage spilling from a 14-inch pipe is being contained in a low-lying area behind homes on North Huron Drive in Oxon Hill, Maryland. (WTOP/Nick Iannelli)
Sewage spilling from a 14-inch pipe is being contained in a low-lying area behind homes on North Huron Drive in Oxon Hill, Maryland. (WTOP/Nick Iannelli) (WTOP/Nick Iannelli)
(WTOP/Nick Iannelli)
A sewage spill in Oxon Hill, Maryland was discovered Sunday, May  3, 2015. (WTOP/Nick Iannelli)
A sewage spill in Oxon Hill, Maryland was discovered Sunday, May 3, 2015. (WTOP/Nick Iannelli) (WTOP/Nick Iannelli)
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Sewage spilling from a 14-inch pipe is being contained in a low-lying area behind homes on North Huron Drive in Oxon Hill, Maryland. (WTOP/Nick Iannelli)
A sewage spill in Oxon Hill, Maryland was discovered Sunday, May  3, 2015. (WTOP/Nick Iannelli)

OXON HILL, Md. — A leak in a 14-inch sewer pipe is causing thousands of gallons of raw sewage to spill into an Oxon Hill, Maryland neighborhood.

According to Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, the problem was first discovered Sunday. Since then, more than 10,000 gallons of sewage has seeped out.

“Fixing a broken sewer main is very different than fixing a broken water main,” says Lyn Riggins, spokeswoman for WSSC.

“You can’t just shut off the waste water. The waste water has to keep flowing or it will back up somewhere.”

Before repair work can be done on the pipe, a WSSC contractor must set up 7,000 feet of temporary pipe to divert sewage around the leak and into the nearest manhole. The whole process may take until Friday.

Until then, the leak will continue.

“We mobilized immediately, but unfortunately it takes time,” Riggins says.

Most of the sewage is being contained in a low-lying area behind homes on North Huron Drive, but some of it has reached Oxon Run tributary that flows into the Potomac River.

According to WSSC, homeowners should not be concerned about their drinking water because the sewage system is separate.

“Even though there is waste water leaking in this area, the drinking water system is safe,” says Riggins.

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