Abel Wolman

Abel Wolman

In Maryland, a Baltimorean, Abel Wolman, conducted water quality studies on the Potomac River for the U.S. Public Health Service in 1913. He then earned his degree in engineering in 1915 from Johns Hopkins University. After graduation, Wolman became a sanitary engineer for the Maryland Department of Public Health where he made a significant contribution by developing refinements to water chlorination procedures.

Beginning in 1918, Wolman collaborated with chemist Linn Enslow to study the elimination of pathogens in water treated with chlorine. By 1923, the pair determined chlorine’s absorption rate in water and established a formula for using chlorine to make drinking water safe for consumption.

Causes of Epidemics

Causes of Epidemics

French microbiologist Louis Pasteur established a germ theory of disease in the mid-19th century. However, it took decades for its implications to take hold, and before Pasteur’s breakthrough, various theories such as evil spirits or demons, were spread. In the early 1900s communicable diseases were still widespread, including influenza, pneumonia, smallpox, tuberculosis, diphtheria, typhoid fever and gastrointestinal diseases — all of which were often fatal. Cholera outbreaks, in particular, created terror for contracting the disease often heralded a quick death. A misunderstanding of the disease and misguided medical treatments lent legitimate fear to populations in the U.S. and worldwide.

Advanced Metering Infrastructure

Advanced Metering Infrastructure

WSSC consistently looks to improve and stay ahead of advancements in the industry with the goal to better serve customers. Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) is on the horizon for WSSC’s customers, which will alert them when there is a potential leak on their property and help provide them with up-to-the-minute account information. AMI is one of several information technology enhancements to improve billing accuracy, eliminate the need for meter reading from the field, and increase the efficiency in water production.

Asset Management Program

Asset Management Program

A multi-year effort, WSSC’s Asset Management Program identifies the infrastructure needs of the next 30 years. However, WSSC officials believe in the future, artificial intelligence tied to sensors within the pipes, will be able to predict asset needs with greater accuracy. WSSC’s Asset Management Program, already considered a national model, prioritizes pipe maintenance and replacement.

Strategic Sourcing

Strategic Sourcing

An example of innovation at WSSC is Strategic Sourcing. Since implementation of this business practice, WSSC has saved over $9.8 million, savings that it has passed along to customers. Additionally, it improved response times so that repairs and infrastructure projects do not have delays due to materials ordering and inventory.

Cryptospordiosis Outbreak

Cryptospordiosis Outbreak

In 1993 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a Cryptosporidiosis outbreak occurred after a water treatment plant was contaminated. The cause of the contamination was never discovered. During the outbreak, 104 people died and an estimated 403,000 people out of a population of 880,000 served by the treatment plant became ill with stomach cramps, fever, diarrhea and dehydration. Incidents like this one motivate WSSC to invest in the development of new technologies.

Trenchless pipe restoration

Trenchless pipe restoration

In 1978 WSSC was the first in the U.S. to use trenchless pipe rehabilitation technology to renovate aging sewer mains. Use of this technology allows renovation of sewer mains without excavation and at much less time than conventional replacements.

Robert Morse

Robert Morse

Initially Robert Morse worked as chief sanitary engineer for the Maryland State Board of Health. Starting in 1912, the individuals actively seeking to form a water and sewerage utility in the counties surrounding D.C. were without funds for engineering studies and financial plans, so Morse and his team at the Board of Health provided assistance and expertise. After six years, the Maryland General Assembly passed the bill forming WSSC. As one of their first acts, WSSC commissioners named Morse as chief engineer, which proved a smart and significant move.

As WSSC’s chief engineer from 1918 until his death in 1936, Morse led planning and construction of the entire utility. His engineering prowess is evident in his design of the Morse Filter, and his judgment and foresight enabled the fledgling utility to survive and thrive.