The Silver Spring water main break on Aug. 12 shut down many businesses in the Long Branch neighborhood and, in some cases, cost thousands in damage to goods and shrank profits.
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Ali Faris, the owner of Adarash Market, a market that specializes in Ethiopian cuisine, said he lost thousands of dollars in inventory.
Just the dough is more than $5,000, and the cost of meat is even greater.
Other businesses in the area were also affected, such as Reliable Cleaners, which is owned by Helen Kim.
Kim said usually her business makes more than $1,000 in a day. That Wednesday, she made about $400.
The carpet was ruined, and Kim said she’d throw it away.
A sewer main in Olney also leaked in a residential area the same day.
Ayoka Blandford, a spokesperson for Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, said the commission’s claims department pays “several hundred thousand dollars” every year for property damage.
“If there is damage to a customer because of our system, we will pay for it,” said Blandford.
These incidents follow others in the county this month where aging pipes burst and halted traffic, a common occurrence as WSSC tries to repair the pipes.
Faris noted WSSC’s efficiency in handling the issue, as well as its courteousness.
“They’re very good. Someone came to talk to me. I was happy,” said Faris.
Kim differed sharply. She said WSSC “didn’t do anything” and judged its performance as “so-so.”
She called 911 when the leak happened, and she waited for 40 minutes before the water was shut off, she said.
The pipes in question were more than 90 years old. About 37 percent of the pipes are more than 50 years old, according to WSSC.
Shelley Kline, an Olney resident whose house was in front of the sewer main break, said WSSC was quick and worked through the night to seal up the leaks. It took care to minimize damage to surroundings, laying new soil and hay on places where the sewage hardened.
“We have breaks all the time, but the other result is we don’t know how long something’s going to last, so they just work on a case-by-case basis,” said Kline.
The repairs will not end soon. Blandford said WSSC replaces up to 60 miles of water pipes a year.
She added that breaks happen daily but said not all of them get coverage. The aging infrastructure ensures that these breaks will continue, she said.
“We have 5,600 miles of pipeline. It’s a process, and it will take decades and decades to replace it all,” said Blandford.