Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Forensic Analysis Presented to Committee

Yesterday the Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment Committee heard a presentation by the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission on the forensic analysis of the Dec. 23 water main break on River Road that led to stranded motorists being rescued by helicopter and swift water boats. In the meeting, I urged the agency to keep the County Council apprised as it identifies the most compromised pipes in its system and as it schedules repairs to major lines.

The December water main break on River Road in Bethesda put lives in jeopardy, closed schools and caused extreme inconvenience to commuters, residents, businesses and holiday travelers, so it is imperative that we stay on top of WSSC’s plans now that we have detailed information on the cause of the break. That’s why, after speaking with WSSC Commissioner Adrienne Mandel, I’m initiating more regular meetings with our three Montgomery County WSSC Commissioners.

The rupture of the 66-inch pre-cast concrete cylinder pipe (PCCP) was caused by damage to the coating as a result of the pipe being supported directly by rock, according to the forensic analysis conducted by Lewis Engineering and Consulting. Installation, which occurred in 1965, did not meet WSSC General Specifications in force at the time.

During prior discussions of the large diameter PCCP issue, it was concluded that a robust inspection and monitoring program was needed for all pipe of this type because of the uncertainty of where these pipes were degrading. The forensic analysis suggests that a review of installation practices, in addition to potentially defective pipe material, may be warranted.

I'll keep you posted as we move forward. In the meantime, let me know your thoughts.

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