BRANDYWINE – With the possibility of contaminated water cycling through a broken pipeline in a section of southern Prince George’s County, the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission issued a warning to its customers advising them to boil their water. In addition to the break, three WSSC wastewater pump stations overflowed. According to WSSC the overflows occurred […]
BRANDYWINE – With the possibility of contaminated water cycling through a broken pipeline in a section of southern Prince George’s County, the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission issued a warning to its customers advising them to boil their water.
In addition to the break, three WSSC wastewater pump stations overflowed.
According to WSSC the overflows occurred at the Fort Washington Estates, Broad Creek and Fort Washington Forest #1 pumping stations. Drinking water is not affected because the drinking water supply is separate from the wastewater system.
According to WSSC, 3,500 gallons of water overflowed at Fort Washington Estates, 900,000 gallons at Broad Creek and 950 gallons at Fort Washington Forest #1. WSSC crews are posting signs in the affected areas and will perform all necessary cleanups when the water recedes.
Because of the break, which occurred during Tuesday evening, WSSC sent an advisory to residents in Accokeek, portions of Fort Washington, Piscataway, east of Indian Head Highway, west of Piscataway road and south of Palmer Road near the Charles County line.
“If you live in the affected area, you should boil your water before drinking it, making ice, washing dishes, brushing teeth and food preparation,” according to WSSC.
Jerry Irvine, public affairs manager for the WSSC, said water is not contaminated, but customers should boil their water as a precaution. Irvine said a water main that broke as a result of the rainstorms in the area.
Irvine said that the pipe went undiscovered for too long without being fixed because of its location. He said the pipe was shut down late Tuesday evening and the advisory was sent out this morning.
“At some point yesterday in the afternoon or the evening, the water main broke down in the Brandywine area,” Irvine said. “Because we could not find the break and locate it and shut it down, it isolated and caused a significant water loss.”
The pipe could not be shut down, Irvine said, so it caused the pressure in the system to decrease.
“When we have low pressure, it allows contaminants to get into the pipe,” Irvine said. “We keep our water pipes highly pressurized, so that means that contaminants can’t get into the pipes. When we have a low-pressure situation, as a precaution, we have to issue a boil-water advisory.”
Irvine said issuing an advisory does not mean the water is unhealthy.
“Typically, we don’t find contaminants after we re-pressurize and do the testing,” Irvine said.
The county’s health department has been notified of the situation, Irvine said, and WSSC continues to communicate with county officials.
Dellia Hawthorne-Williams, spokeswoman for the Prince George’s County Health Department, said she has been in contact with WSSC since Wednesday morning.
“Pretty much what we are doing in addition to what we normally do as far as inspecting restaurants and facilities that may have been impacted, we are also been redirecting (residents) back to the WSSC website where they have the maps so you can find out whether or not you have been impacted directly.”
In addition, Hawthorne-Williams said the health department has also sent out advisories to residents about how to handle food and ice during water advisories.
Customers should not use ice and be careful washing food with the water, Irvine said.
“It’s an inconvenience, absolutely,” Irvine said. “But it’s not something that should be a game changer or a life changer for people for the next day or so.”
Irvine said no customers are currently without water service.
WSSC has restored pressure in the pipes back to operating standards and will soon begin testing the water.