An underground water main in the Elkridge area, where three major breaks have occurred since 1988, broke again early Tuesday, spilling millions of gallons of water, the county's public works director said yesterday.
However, unlike the past ruptures of the waterline, there was no disruption of water service, said James M. Irvin, the publicworks director.
The county government filed a $20 million civil suit earlier thisyear against the manufacturers and suppliers of the prestressed concrete pipe used in the underground line.
In the suit, the county cited the three previous breaks, which disrupted water service from twoto three days. The county's suit claimed that the ruptures occurred with a "force similar to the explosion of a bomb" and could be dangerous. The suit is pending in the Circuit Court. The defendants are denying any liability.
Irvin said that the waterline break occurred shortly after midnight Tuesday at Eulibank Drive near Montgomery Road,and that the water pressure "drilled a hole 15 feet under the pipe and spilled out onto the ground."
Irvin said the county was "lucky we had no service disruption. It is only due to the cool weather and lower public demand for water."
He said that the county hopes to repair the break in several days and that in early spring it will replace about two miles of the line, where the breaks have occurred. The pipeline was installed in the mid-1970s.
The three previous breaksin the line occurred July 1, 1988; Sept. 23, 1989; and June 22, 1990.
Mark D. McCurdy, an assistant county solicitor, said the break in the line early Tuesday morning "puts an exclamation point behind the county's claims that the pipe is bad." He said the main defendants in the case are successor companies to the original supplier and manufacturer. They are the Madison Management Group Inc. of Chicago and GHA Lock Joint of Dallas.