Work crews maneuver a section of large pipe into position to replace a damaged portion of a water main in Prince Georges County, Maryland, July 17, 2013. / WUSA
OXON HILL, Md. (CBS/AP) Officials in suburban Washington say they've made adjustments to keep water flowing during urgent water main repairs and hundreds of thousands of residents may not lose water service for days after all.
Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission General Manager Jerry Johnson announced Wednesday afternoon that workers were able to divert water to the area of southern Prince George's County served by a failing water main and if residents continue to conserve water, the system should remain full.
"Workers 'unfroze' and closed a key valve near the failing pipe. This greatly reduced the amount of pipeline that had to be shut down to make repairs to the failing 54-inch Forestville pipe," officials said in a news release, according to CBS Washington, D.C. affiliate WUSA-TV.
He says mandatory restrictions will remain in place for a few days until the 4 1/2-foot main is returned to service.
Up to 200,000 people were affected when water was cut off Tuesday night, CBS News correspondent Chip Reid reported.
Officials first got alerts Friday from a warning system that the pipe was failing. Additional warnings over the weekend and Monday forced repairs. County officials urged residents to stock up on water before the work began.
"Usage was high as people stockpiled and now we need to conserve," the utility said in a tweet just after 10 p.m., WUSA reported.
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