Montgomery County water-main break is a sign of a larger problem

A massive Montgomery County water-main break that forced families out of their homes Thursday night is now repaired, but there's a lot of damage left behind.

The sinkhole is patched - but all of the water has left its mark.

Making matters worse, the problem is not going away anytime soon.

American Society of Civil Engineers Executive Director Tom Smith says it's part of a larger problem nationwide.

"It's alarming. It's unfortunate that we're seeing similar situations across the country," he said.

According to the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, the incident is the result of an eight-inch water-main break. And it's the third break this week in a community with pipes that are about 50 years old.

A sinkhole that opened up on the GW Parkway last month was caused by the failure of a 60-year-old brick inlet. And last September, a Southeast D.C. sinkhole emerged that was so large if almost swallowed up a couple of cars and a bus.

"The problem itself is failing to maintain our infrastructure. We've taken it for granted. We're relying on past generations who have built the infrastructure that we're utilizing today, and we're failing to maintain it and modernize it," Smith said.

Smith says the solution requires investment at the Federal, state, and local levels.

"Much of our infrastructure is out of sight and therefore out of mind, until we don't have it," Smith said.

WSSC says they are working to replace their entire water-main system.

They say about one-third of their water mains are more than 50 years old.