Dozens of Water-Main Breaks Plague Montgomery County in Extreme Cold

Combination of cold water and old pipes causes failures in Bethesda and elsewhere


Crews work on a water main break on New Hampshire Avenue near the Beltway in Silver Spring.


With temperatures plunging far below freezing, the Montgomery County area has seen an uptick in water pipes breaking from the cold.

On Tuesday, Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission crews responded to 35 active water-main breaks in Montgomery County, WSSC spokesman Luis Maya said.

The “pretty extreme” number is not the most the county’s seen, he said, but it’s one of the highest.

The reason, he said, is a combination of the freezing cold and old pipes.

“When it’s extreme temperature like we’re seeing right now, we see many, many more breaks,” he said.

Some breaks were centered around Silver Spring, Bethesda, Rockville and Damascus, but incidents occurred throughout the county. Maya said WSSC responded to 60 water-main breaks in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties over the weekend, and responded to more than 80 in the two counties on Tuesday.

With cold weather expected to continue through the weekend, Maya said it was likely the number of water-main breaks would continue to rise.

Water-main breaks typically take several hours to fix and sometimes require digging or closing traffic lanes, but Maya said WSSC tries to minimize the effect of work and retain people’s access to water.

“We’re expecting to continue, but we’re ready,” Maya said. “We’ve got our crews out there.”

Anyone who sees a water-main break—anything from a small leak to gushing water from the ground—is asked to call WSSC at 301-206-4002, email or report the incident through the WSSC mobile app.

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