Water reserves could run out as early as Wednesday. Mandatory water restrictions began late Tuesday in several communities in Prince George's County just outside Washington, including Joint Base Andrews, to help preserve firefighting capabilities and provide water during part of the first day.
The restrictions include limits on the use of dishwashers, washing machines and bathing.
After the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission received an alert from a warning system for a 4-½-foot water main, the utility and county officials urged residents to stock up on water before the repairs began. Once water in the pipeline runs out, officials expect no water service in the area for three to five days.
That will leave residents with empty taps and force restaurants and hotels to close their doors, unable to do basic things like provide guests with showers and wash dishes. Joint Base Andrews is shutting down all but the most critical operations, and the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center is closing Wednesday.
County officials worked to make the most of the advanced warning before the massive outage, said county spokesman Scott Peterson. Officials are providing water at three schools in affected areas and opening reception centers where people can shower, use the bathroom and get drinking water, he said. Fire officials were placing tankers in the affected area.
"One blessing is that usually there is a break, and you are dealing with the aftermath. This is a different situation," Peterson said. "Because of new technology we were able to get out with 24-hour notice, and people were able to prepare for this. As frustrating as the situation is, most of the time you don't even get 24 hours."