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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

WSSC problems/failures/dysfunction in the news

(Posted 28 Jan 2009)
Council head: WSSC "no longer works" Montgomery lawmakers angry over failure to discuss main breaks.
Gazette, 28 Jan 2009 (Hyslop).
The head of the Montgomery Council this week called the bicounty Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission a six-member authority that "no longer works."

Council President Philip M. Andrews joined with five others on the nine-member council Tuesday in expressing their disgust that the WSSC never talked about a manager's report on troubling water main breaks during its nearly 12-hour meeting last week.

Spectacular ruptures in water mains have occurred over the past eight months, including one in late December on River Road in Bethesda that made national news. Motorists had to be rescued from their vehicles. Other water main breaks have forced businesses to shut down and have necessitated thousands of residents to boil water for use. Also, there have been a record number of smaller breaks, including hundreds this month.

The WSSC agenda is set and run by commission chairwoman Joyce Starks, one of three Prince George's County members on the utility's governing board, which also includes three members from Montgomery.

"There is now a real safety threat because of the lack of sufficient infrastructure replacement," said Andrews (D-Dist. 3) of Gaithersburg. "It's partly money [but] there also has to be a way to get decisions made by the commission."

Commissioner Gene Counihan of Montgomery, the WSSC vice chairman, was asked what the commission discussed at its Jan. 21 meeting.

"A significant amount of time was spent on the minority business enterprise program," Counihan said, responding to a question from Nancy M. Floreen (D-At large), chairman of the Montgomery County Council committee that oversees the utility.

"Given how commissioners are spending their meetings, how can we have confidence that these inspections, monitoring and maintenance issues are going to get attention?" said Floreen of Garrett Park.

Requests for comment from WSSC commissioners from Prince George's County, County Executive Jack B. Johnson and the Prince George's County Council were not returned by press time.

Divided WSSC has local leaders steamed.
wtop.com, 28 Jan 2009 (Ryan).
. . . the WSSC needs billions in infrastruture repairs, and it recently had to deal with two massive water main breaks, one that required dramatic helicopter rescues on River Road.

Counihan says the break on Jan. 20 in Temple Hills that left 90,000 people without water was never discussed.

"We did not get to that item on the agenda"

When hearing about this, Floreen was floored.

"You mean you had a whole-day meeting and you didn't talk about this? You have got to be kidding."
Johnson Appointees Run Amok at WSSC.
Maryland Politics Watch, 22 Jan 2009 (Pagnucco).

Former WSSC Commissioner Responds to MPW.
Maryland Politics Watch, 28 Jan 2009 (Pagnucco).

More Chaos at WSSC.
Maryland Politics Watch, 28 Jan 2009 (Pagnucco).

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