WSSC: Icy Potomac River causes water main breaks in the District

BETHESDA, Md. (WJLA) - The water is still flowing at Great Falls, but it's surrounded by something you don't usually see on the Potomac -- ice.

Down the river into the District, there's far more of it, and unfortunately, the colder the water is, the more problems it causes for the area's aging pipes.

This issue on Wisconsin Avenue in Bethesda is one of the many water main breaks WSSC is dealing with:

"In a temperate winter, 10 a day would be a lot," says WSSC spokesperson Jerry Irvine.

But right now, the utility is dealing with about 70. That's more than they can handle at one time, so they have to prioritize.

"In this instance here, we've got a major thoroughfare shut down, so that's a huge traffic issue," says Irvine.

"This place is gridlock all the time, it's really bad, so this won't make things any better...In fact, I have to call my wife and let her know not to come home this way," says Bethesda commuter Art Salwin.

WSSC says things got bad a few weeks ago when the polar vortex hit, then there was a break, and now it's terrible again.

"We've never ventured out when it's been this cold before," says Reston resident Gretel Von Pischke. "In the summer you often see bubbles and stuff around the edges of the rock, but now it's all beautiful ice and icicles."

But a WSSC spokesperson says when you see ice like this form on the Potomac, you can bet that's going to cause a lot of issues elsewhere.