A damaged pipe that has been leaking raw sewage into the Reedy Branch Creek in Olney since Tuesday has finally been found.
Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission crews found it on Thursday afternoon, but have been unable to reach it because it is buried 18 feet under layers of roadway.
WSSC spokesperson Jim Neustadt says pipes are usually buried just eight feet under. He says getting to the 45-year-old 16-inch cast iron pipe has been proving to be a problem for crews.
Neustadt says the break wasn't very big, but it was enough to send a million and a half gallons of raw sewage spilling into the creek. The water eventually ends up in the Rocky Gorge Reservoir Northwest of Laurel.
"Now what we have to do is dig a little deeper, so we actually fix the break, and we don't know how long that's going to take at this point," Neustadt says.
It isn't known what caused the pipe to break, but it has been spilling raw sewage, which will eventually end up in the reservoir, and is the source of drinking water for thousands of people.
Neustadt says WSSC is taking every measure to make sure the water is treated.
"What we'll have to do is do some mitigation on the land," he says. "We'll spread lime. We'll pick up the pieces of debris that we can. That will be done by hand. As far as what will go in the water, nature will take care of that over time."
Neustadt says the water is safe to drink and he assures customers that the problem will be fixed as quickly as possible.
"It's an unfortunate situation, and we're doing what we can to get it fixed up as quickly as possible," says Neustadt. "We're very concerned about the environment, so we want to get it taken care of the best way possible."
WSSC officials say service has not been disrupted, but residents should expect traffic in the area to be affected while the work is being done.
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