The forested area around WSSC’s two reservoirs serve as a buffer to reduce the amount of pollutants reaching the source of drinking water for 1/3 of our 1.8 million customers. This pollution comes from new development, fertilizers and pesticides, soil from erosion, manure from farms and waste from birds, deer, horses and pets. The 6,000 acres of watershed property were purchased with funds from WSSC customer accounts and therefore our primary mission is to protect this valuable source of drinking water.
Protection of the reservoirs is not just vital for preserving drinking water quality but also to assist in improving the health of the Chesapeake Bay. Our watershed is just one of hundreds that reaches the Bay. The work we do to improve water quality in our reservoirs helps improve the Bay. Bay restoration requires that multiple agencies and jurisdictions work together to achieve a healthy and productive watershed. You can find out more about efforts to save the Bay by visiting the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the EPA websites.
This video highlights the many ways that the watershed is valued in the community.
While we all love the beauty and opportunities offered at the watershed recreation areas, our activities cannot interfere with the watershed’s main purpose – to protect the quality of our drinking water sources. That’s why we close the watershed during the wetter winter months when there is less foliage and ground cover to reduce erosion and runoff. It’s also why WSSC hired a consultant to help us assess the condition of the watershed and make recommendations on protecting the acreage we own and the entire watershed.
WSSC works with agencies in Prince George’s, Montgomery and Howard counties to discuss large scale impacts on the Patuxent River Reservoirs and develop programs that interested parties can do to maintain water quality.
WSSC also regularly reviews watershed management in a comprehensive manner with a goal to understand how our actions or inactions can impact the watershed and water quality. This involves reviewing access, fees and fines as we seek to continually improve water quality, strengthen watershed security and establish responsible rules governing public access.
In 2012, EA Engineering completed an independent study of our 5,600 acre portion of the Patuxent River watershed. Presentations made to WSSC Commissioners can be found below.