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WSSC had no warning before water main break

Wednesday - 3/20/2013, 6:00pm  ET

water main chevy chase March 20 2013 (WTOP/Kristi King/WJLA)
Work continues early Wednesday on the water main that burst Tuesday night. (WTOP/Nick Ianelli)

How are restaurants handling water restrictions?

WTOP's Ari Ashe reports.

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Nick Iannelli, wtop.com

UPDATE - Wednesday - 3/20/2013, 6:00pm ET

WASHINGTON - The Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission says repair crews plan to remove a 20-foot section of a 5-foot pipe Wednesday night and replace it with a new pipe.

Once the replacement is complete, crews will need several more days to wrap up work along Connecticut Avenue between Dunlop Street and Manor Road, according to WSSC.

Two northbound lanes of Connecticut Avenue have reopened to traffic. All southbound lanes remain open.

EARLIER - Wednesday - 3/20/2013, 9:59am ET

CHEVY CHASE, Md. - A flurry of construction activity surrounds the intersection in Chevy Chase where a water main burst Monday.

Workers are repairing damage after the break blasted a giant crater in the ground.

The cause is still under investigation.

According to the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, it may take several months to determine exactly why the break happened.

Utility officials say they never received warning signals from an expensive piece of equipment installed at the site, The Washington Post reports.

The automatic sensor is programmed to detect weaknesses around the pipe and notify the utility company so it can be shut down before a break occurs. WSSC tells The Post it doesn't know why the the sensor did not ping.

The tool is part of a broader detection system that WSSC has spent more than $20 million on since 2007.

Near the water main break site, only one lane of northbound traffic on Connecticut Avenue gets by between East-West Highway/Md. 410 and Jones Bridge Road.

As WSSC crews work there, crews also are on the scene of another water main break. A 10-inch water main broke at the corner of Willard and North Park avenues in the Chevy Chase area Wednesday morning. Just before 10 a.m., a WSSC spokesperson said three high-rise buildings are without water. It could take four- to six hours to make the repairs.

Meanwhile, water restrictions remain in effect Wednesday for 1.8 million WSSC customers in Montgomery and Prince George's counties.

Customers are being urged to use only necessary water, conserving whenever possible.

Violators could be fined up to $500.

The system lost more than 60 million gallons of water during the break.

Many around the area are making an effort to cut back on their water usage.

"It's the right thing to do," says Larry Leon of Chevy Chase. "You can certainly make an effort for a couple days.

Others are not aware of the restrictions, or they feel they need to wash clothes or dishes.

Officials with WSSC say fines are certainly possible, and they have happened in recent summers during mandatory restrictions.

However, the utility does not actively monitor customers to determine what their usage is.

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