Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Montgomery Council member Berliner urges President-elect Obama to include aging water mains in the proposed federal stimulus package

This is serious. In Montgomery County on Dec 23rd there was a water main burst about 10 minutes after I passed that point yesterday. I guess the gods were watching over me. See the news coverage here http://www.wtopnews.com/?nid=706&pid=0&sid=1557387&page=2 and here http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article5389887.ece

Here is the newsletter I received from Roger Berliner's office:

ROCKVILLE, Md., December 23, 2008—Montgomery County District 1 Councilmember Roger Berliner today urged President-elect Obama to include in the proposed federal stimulus package funding for aging water mains operated by the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission.
Councilmember Berliner made his statements after visiting the scene of the break of a large 66-inch main near River Road in Bethesda today. The break caused major problems that led to people being rescued from their cars, the washout of part of the roadway and the early closing of all Montgomery County Public Schools.
“We have long known we are in a dangerous situation,” said Councilmember Berliner, who is a member of the Council’s Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment Committee and whose district includes the Bethesda area. “This latest incident underscores the urgent need for the federal government to include projects like fixing the infrastructure in neighborhoods like this in the federal stimulus package. We know that, without the federal government’s help, there are future incidents similar to today’s that are waiting to happen.”
The water main break occurred on River Road between Seven Locks Road and Fenway Drive. That section of River Road will remain closed until repairs can be made. Water pressure in area homes was affected. Nearby Suburban Hospital continued operation using its emergency water supply.
The WSSC serves more than 1.8 million residents in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. It operates and maintains seven water and wastewater plants, 5,500 miles of fresh water pipeline and more than 5,300 miles of sewer pipeline.
Over the past year, the County Council has attempted to work with WSSC representatives on a plan to address aging water mains that have been breaking at an increasing rate. This fall, the Montgomery and Prince George’s Councils approved the WSSC’s use of $1.6 million in the WSSC fund balance to inspect large mains like the one that broke today with high-tech equipment that could find problems before breaks occur.
However, Councilmember Berliner said he has been concerned that Montgomery and Prince George’s counties often have disagreed on the level of funding needed to address the WSSC’s infrastructure needs.
“We need to examine the organizational structure of the WSSC,” said Councilmember Berliner. “We need to determine whether the bi-county approach to our water main infrastructure is tenable going forward.”

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