WSSC: ICC Northern Alignment Threatens Drinking Water Supplies

Utility leaders, water quality experts and local environmentalists join together to urge officials not to select northern alignment

| News Release



Laurel, Maryland – February 24, 2005: Driving home the point that the proposed Intercounty Connector (ICC) Corridor Two (northern) alignment threatens drinking water supplies, Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) Chair Joyce Starks and Interim General Manager Carla Reid Joyner today joined WSSC water quality experts and local environmentalists at WSSC's Patuxent Water Filtration Plant to urge federal, state and local officials not to select the ICC northern alignment. The proposed northern alignment would result in construction within the watershed of WSSC's Rocky Gorge Reservoir, which -- working in conjunction with the upstream Triadelphia Reservoir -- serves as a drinking water source for more than 500,000 customers in Montgomery and Prince George's counties.

"This alignment would severely impact our long-term ability to meet our mission of providing safe, clean water to our customers," said Commission Chair Joyce Starks. "Our message today is very simple and straightforward - if you care about our drinking water supplies, do not select the northern alignment."

WSSC Commissioners unanimously passed a resolution last week opposing the northern alignment.

Short and long-term negative impacts of the northern alignment include: increasing sediment, harmful nutrients and toxic loads into the reservoirs; increasing the watershed imperviousness (increasing runoff into the reservoirs due of the inability of the land to absorb water) directly due to the road construction and indirectly due to the additional growth that will be caused by the road; and increasing the risk of hazardous material spills into the reservoir.

Water from the Rocky Gorge Reservoir is filtered and purified at WSSC's Patuxent Plant. The plant produces an average of 50 million gallons of safe, clean water per day and serves the Laurel, Beltsville and College Park areas in Prince George's County; and the Burtonsville, Colesville, Hampshire Greens and Wheaton areas in Montgomery County. The reservoirs also serve as a regional water supply source during droughts and emergencies.

"Through solid partnerships and aggressive source water protection efforts, WSSC works to protect our watershed and our drinking water supplies," said WSSC Interim General Manager Carla Reid Joyner. "Unfortunately, the progress we have made would hit a roadblock if the northern alignment is selected. In their own environmental assessment of the roadway, the State has failed to address the impact the northern alignment would have on our drinking water supplies."

WSSC, partnering with several regional and government agencies including: Howard, Montgomery and Prince George's counties, the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission, and the Montgomery and Prince George's Soil Conservation Districts, works to protect the reservoirs by limiting nutrient loading and reservoir capacity loss, minimizing risk of hazardous spills, and preserving the rural character of the watershed.

WSSC Water is the proud provider of safe, seamless and satisfying water services, making the essential possible every day for our neighbors in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. We work to deliver our best because it’s what our customers expect and deserve.

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