The weather is getting colder, which Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission officials say means more incidents like today’s on Bradley Boulevard between Burdette and Burning Tree Roads.
WSSC got the call for a water main break there at about 6:26 a.m., spokesman I.J. Hudson said. Crews have been digging to a 16-inch pipe under the road to repair a one-inch leak since then.
Hudson said they will likely be there through the afternoon rush hour, meaning drivers will be redirected around the closure.
Drivers on westbound Bradley Boulevard will be detoured on Burning Tree Road to Hillmead Road to Burdette Road and then back on to Bradley. Eastbound drives will be redirected on the opposite route.
The cast iron pipe was installed in 1962, Hudson said, emblematic of the aging water pipe infrastructure across the region. The WSSC hasn’t seen a huge increase in water main breaks to date with the arrival of colder weather this week.
Temperatures in the 60’s hit the area over the weekend before dropping on Tuesday.
“When the temperatures go back down a couple of days later that’s what happens. When they go back up, it’s the same thing. It’s the expansion and contraction and those brittle pipes give way,” Hudson said. “And Bethesda has some old pipes.”
The WSSC must rehabilitate where possible its entire sanitation system – much of which was built in the 1940s and 1950s – by 2017 by order of an Environmental Protection Agency-enforced lawsuit settlement.
That system includes 5,600 miles of fresh water pipeline and 5,400 miles of sewer pipeline in Montgomery County and Prince George’s County.