Two water main breaks close roads in downtown Hyattsville on New Year’s Day

Water main breaks have closed two roads in Hyattsville. Photo by Krissi Humbard

BY KRISSI HUMBARD — Downtown Hyattsville is off to a wet 2018.

Update Jan. 3, 5:30 p.m.: The water main breaks on Rhode Island Avenue and Hamilton Street have been repaired. All lanes on those roads have reopened.

The water main break has been repaired on Gallatin Street and water has been restored. The street remains closed, though, as crews evaluate the safety of the road. Water flowed heavily on Gallatin Street between Baltimore Avenue and Church Place for more than 24 hours before a crew could address the situation. WSSC said water was not turned off [during that time] to keep customers with service, rather than keeping them without water for a long period of time until a crew finished with another break and arrived at the scene to make repairs.

As of this afternoon, there were 79 water main breaks in WSSC’s coverage area that need to be addressed. Crews are working around the clock to make repairs. WSSC said crews repair nearly 1,800 water main breaks each year, with the vast majority of them — approximately 1,200 — occurring between November and February. Nearly 40 percent of WSSC water mains are more than 50 years old.

Update Jan. 2, 10:30 a.m.: Water main breaks continue to be a problem today. Water is still flowing on Gallatin Street. The street is closed between Baltimore Avenue and Church Place. Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) crews continue to work on the water main break on Rhode Island between 41st Place and 42nd Place. That section of road has reopened going southbound, with traffic using the right lane.

A WSSC crew is also on scene in the 2900 block of Hamilton Street near Ager Road in West Hyattsville, working to fix a water main break there. One lane is closed, but traffic is able to get through using the right lane.

Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) said crews have responded to more than 60 water main breaks since Friday.

Original story: As of noon on Jan. 1, Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) was working on at least two water main breaks in the city of Hyattsville. Two roads are currently closed due to the water main breaks: Gallatin Street at Baltimore Avenue and Rhode Island Avenue between 41st Place and 42nd Place.

A Utiliquest employee working on the scene at the water main break on Rhode Island Avenue between 41st Place and 42nd Place said there were 8-10 water main breaks in the area so far today, mostly in Hyattsville and Mount Rainier.

Hal Metzler, the city’s project planner, was on the scene at Gallatin Street around noon to assess the situation. Water was flowing heavily there and the asphalt on Gallatin was starting to crack. Metzler said the rapid temperature change — going from temps in the 40s to below freezing in a few days — could contribute to the water main breaks. He also explained that when the water is turned off in one place, the pressure in the other pipes changes, which can also contribute to breaks.

A resident tipped off HL&T around 9:30 a.m. about a broken fire hydrant and water flowing on Gallatin Street. The fire department was called at that time, but no one had been to the scene as of noon. The broken fire hydrant did not seem to be related to the water flowing down Gallatin. It’s not clear what time WSSC was made aware of the water main break on Gallatin.

This is a recurring problem in the city. Old infrastructure and extremely cold temperatures are the main reasons for the breaks.

To report a problem or water main break, call the WSSC Emergency Call Center at 301.206.4002. WSSC also has a map of current work orders online.