Silver Chips Online

River of water needs a massive plan

By Charles Kong, Online Op/Ed Editor
December 26, 2008
Shouts of joy rang throughout the SAC during 5A lunch on Tuesday as news of an early release day quickly spread from table to table. Some students exited in a rush to get to their lockers, others remained to hang out one last time with their friends. Getting out two and a half hours early the last day before winter break seemed too good to be true.
Xin Shan


I only overheard that the early release had something to do with a water main breaking, but at the time it seemed irrelevant - after all, I was already in the middle of planning a party with my friends that afternoon. Nothing could bring down my mood, I thought, nothing at all.

It was only after the party when I got home and read the news that I realized how drastic the damages and effects of the water main break were on River Road in Bethesda. The 66-inch water main spewed 150,000 gallons of water a minute at the rupture's peak. At least 15 people were rescued by fire and emergency personnel. Some were airlifted in baskets while others were carried out in metal boats as water piled around their cars, cutting off their heat.

This major incident has hit the main pages of many and print media, including The Washington Post, Fox News and CNN, and is a sign to the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) of the need for repair on these aging pipelines in Montgomery County. Tuesday's break was the third major disruption in the last six months. In May, three water main breaks occurred in the county over the course of two days. Last June, a major rupture closed more than 800 restaurants across the county and spurring thousands of residents to boil their water against possible contamination. Wednesday, another main ruptured on Randolph Road.

The pipeline ruptured on River Road was last inspected in 1998 and was scheduled for inspection in 2011 - clearly WSSC needs to inspect these pipelines more frequently. Since last January, already 1,357 water main breaks have occurred. Last year, there were 2,129 breaks or leaks. The WSSC needs to take initiative to receive more funding for the water system it operates in Montgomery County. Hopefully the new Obama government will be able do something for the deteriorating pipeline quality. Water is essential for life after all - there isn't anything more important than that.

http://silverchips.mbhs.edu/story/8816