The Washington Post

Maryland water utility offices lose water — yes, water — after pipe breaks

The Laurel headquarters of suburban Maryland’s water utility had a little problem Thursday morning: no water.

The irony wasn’t lost on the 700 or so people who work in the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission’s 12-story office building on Sweitzer Lane, near Interstate 95 and Route 198.

“You smile and think about the irony of it — the water company doesn’t have water — and then you have to figure out how you’re going to deal with it,” said WSSC spokesman Jim Neustadt.

The culprit — a broken 12-inch water main nearby — was fixed around noon, about 15 hours after the break occurred at 9:30 p.m. Wednesday.

It was just in time, Neustadt said. Without working bathrooms or drinking fountains, the utility was getting ready to send employees home, he said.

The WSSC provides water and sewer services to nearly 2 million people in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. Like other water utilities nationwide, it has struggled with the number of breaks — about 1,800 annually — in its aging water pipes.

Katherine Shaver is a transportation and development reporter. She joined The Washington Post in 1997 and has covered crime, courts, education and local government but most prefers writing about how people get — or don’t get — around the Washington region.



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