- The Washington Times - Friday, December 18, 2009

BALTIMORE | A 42-inch water main broke and flooded neighborhood streets in the northeastern part of the city Thursday, leading public works officials to order 1.8 million area residents to conserve water.

Public Works spokesman Kurt Kocher said the main that ties into a 30-inch main broke about 12:30 p.m., causing severe roadway flooding and damage. By 6:45 p.m., the water was mostly shut off, Kocher said.

He did not how many homes were without water in what is the latest in a series of pipe breaks in the area.

Kocher said Baltimore residents and those in Baltimore, Anne Arundel and Howard counties who get water from the city should conserve, saying crews were having difficulty getting water through the nearby Montebello chlorinator.

“Right now, there is enough safe water to provide water to all our citizens if they conserve,” Kocher said.

Kocher said late Thursday that officials didn’t think the quality of the water had been affected but testing would be done through the night.

Crews were going door-to-door to check houses for possible gas leaks.

Constellation Energy spokesman Rob Gould said about 80 homes were without natural gas. There was water in the gas lines.

Gould warned gas customers that it will be a “lengthy and laborious process” to restore service and would depend on when the water would be turned off. Some repairs should be done Friday but others could extend into the weekend.

Kocher urged residents not to try to return or stay in their flooded homes. The cafeteria at nearby Morgan State University is available for those who cannot return to their homes.

In September, a break in a 6-foot-wide water main flooded a large section of the Baltimore suburb of Dundalk, washing away part of a road, flooding cars and trapping some residents in their homes. On Dec. 10, a 12-inch break occurred in front of a shopping center in Dundalk, and a water main burst the next day in Lutherville.

“It just really re-emphasizes that we’ve got to make this, this is a national issue when we talk about infrastructure pipes underground,” Mayor Sheila Dixon told WJZ-TV.

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Associated Press Writer Alex Dominguez contributed to this story.

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