Potomac River istock photo

WSSC and EPA Monitor Mystery Sheen in Potomac River

Potomac River istock photoThe Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) and a number of regional agencies are monitoring a sheen of lubricant-like substance that is floating in the Potomac River.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is taking the lead in investigating the source of the plume, as well as coordinating a regional response to the incident.

According to a WSSC news release, the sheen traveled as far south as the Seneca Dam on Monday, but has not progressed further downriver this week.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is taking the lead in investigating the source of the plume, as well as coordinating a regional response to the incident. WSSC officials say the plume has not adversely impacted drinking water.

So far, the origin of the plume is unknown and officials are still trying to determine the exact nature of the substance. Early testing indicates it could be something similar to a hydraulic fluid or lubricant, according to WSSC. The plume was first reported near Point of Rocks on Sunday.

wssc-washington-suburban-sanitary-commission-for-slider-855-x-380WSSC is taking the following steps to protect its source water in the event the substance moves downriver:

  • WSSC continues to maintain its system at full capacity.
  • Crews placed a boom in the river to divert any floating substance away from the intake on Tuesday.
  • As a precaution, WSSC has made adjustments to the treatment process.
  • All maintenance activities that require flushing of pipes has been halted.
  • An enhanced monitoring plan is in place at the plant, including hourly tests of the water in the river near the intake and adding additional testing of the water as it comes into the plant and before water goes out into the distribution system.

The Potomac Water Filtration Plant produces approximately 70 percent of WSSC’s treated water each day for customers across Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. The Patuxent Water Filtration Plant supplies the remainder to WSSC’s customers.

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