Reporting Alex DeMetrick
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — On top of days of power outages, now comes an urgent request to conserve water. It’s going out to the 1.8 million people tied into Baltimore City’s water system.
Alex DeMetrick reports it’s the first step in stopping a potential disaster.
When big water mains break, big damage follows. Now a water main just as big as the ones that broke in Halethorpe and Dundalk a few years ago is threatening to give way.
“We have gotten ahead of a potentially serious matter,” said Baltimore DPW Director Alfred Foxx.
It was found with a robotic tool that Baltimore’s DPW started using last March. Scanning from inside, it discovered a metal layer called prestressing wires that is rusting away. It’s the same cause of past major breaks.
“Put in the ground in the 70s and they were manufactured by a company that didn’t know how to manufacture pipes very well,” said DPW spokesman Kurt Kocher.
The line runs near a Southwest Baltimore intersection, under some abandoned railroad tracks. It’s a massive 54-inch transmission main that carries water from the Ashburton plant through the city into Anne Arundel and Howard counties.
“We should start conserving immediately. We will start the actual testing on Tuesday, tomorrow,” Foxx said.
Judging how to best replace the water that flows into the pipeline is the purpose of the test.
“As we test the service area to make sure we can re-route water and provide adequate services to the county,” Foxx said.
As water is moved around, pressure will likely drop from Wilkins Avenue south. To minimize it, all customers are being asked to conserve: no outdoor water use and limit indoor use—washing clothes and dishes–to off-peak hours of late evening or early morning. If the test finds enough water can be re-routed, repairs on the line will start before it gives way.
As tests begin to re-route water, some outages are possible. Baltimore’s DPW says if they happen, outages should only last a few hours.