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Frigid Weather Spurs Increase in Water Main Breaks Across DC Metropolitan Area

The Washington, D.C. region is grappling with a surge in water main breaks as freezing temperatures persist. Reports indicate dozens of incidents since the beginning of the year, with the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission highlighting a significant spike of approximately 60% in the likelihood of water main breaks during cold weather. Even a minor temperature shift of 10 degrees can intensify stress on the pipes.

One notable disruption occurred near S Eads Street and 15th Street S in Arlington, leading to substantial delays on Monday morning. FOX 5’s Melanie Alnwick brought attention to a substantial water main break along Rt 29 Columbia Pike on Sunday evening. Repair crews faced the challenge of excavating a deep trench to locate and address the break.

Another active repair site involves a water main break along Colesville Road in Silver Spring. The southbound lanes of Colesville Road, specifically at Eastwood Avenue and Timberwood Avenue, are temporarily closed to facilitate the repair work.

The Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission points out that a significant portion of their distribution system, nearly 3,000 miles of water mains, comprises cast iron pipes installed between 1916 and 1976. These pipes are particularly susceptible to breaks due to the inherent brittleness of cast iron, making them highly sensitive to external pressure.

As the region contends with this surge in water main breaks, residents and authorities are keenly aware of the challenges posed by the aging infrastructure, emphasizing the need for proactive measures and upgrades to ensure the resilience of the water supply system.