Update: March 23, 2021

Watershed properties remain open, however as of March 15, 2021, permits are required.

All 800 plus Watershed Users that purchased a 2020 Seasonal Watershed Permit prior to the Watershed closing in March 2020 have been sent their complimentary permit or have received instructions on how to generate their permit on-line.

All 2020 Watershed Permit holders that purchased a 2020 Seasonal Boat Mooring Stake prior to last year’s closing were mailed their complimentary Watershed User Permit and their 2021 Boat Mooring Stickers on
March 8.

Complimentary permits cannot be completed online at this time.

Patuxent Watershed staff are reaching out to the watershed users that were unable to obtain a boat stake last year to process their purchase for the 2021 boat mooring stake.  Anyone purchasing a boat mooring stake must complete their purchase at the Brighton Dam Visitor Center with a check or cash only.

All in-person transactions at the Brighton Dam Visitor Center are being done with minimal contact with users directed to stay in their cars.

The cashier’s window at the WSSC headquarters remains closed to the public. 


What is the watershed and the watershed recreation user program?

The Patuxent Reservoirs Watershed is made up of thousands of acres of wooded property that surround the Triadelphia Reservoir - which is created by the Brighton Dam - and the T. Howard Duckett Dam and Reservoir. WSSC Water owns and manages about 6,000 acres of this property, protecting it as a vital source of water (the two reservoirs can store more than 11 billion gallons of water that drain from 132 square miles of the watershed, enough to provide drinking water to more than 600,000 WSSC Water customers).

While it's important to protect the watershed, WSSC Water's watershed recreation user program provides the public with recreational access to the privately owned area. With a permit, visitors can use six recreation areas that include picnic facilities, more than 16 miles of shoreline fishing, and interior recreation trails. The watershed property is considered private property because it was purchased with ratepayer dollars to provide a protective buffer area for the reservoirs.

To learn more about activities that are allowed, see the Watershed Regulations FAQs and the Watershed Regulations page. For helpful information about amenities at and directions to the recreation areas, see the Watershed Maps and Directions page.

Buy Watershed Use permits

  • Buy permits online
  • Buy permits at the Brighton Dam Visitor Center
    2 Brighton Dam Road, Brookville, Maryland 20833
    7 a.m. to 8 p.m. (March 15-Nov. 30, including weekends)
    7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (Dec. 1-March 14)
    The Brighton Dam Visitor Center is closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day
  • WSSC Water​ Headquarters
    14501 Sweitzer Lane, Laurel, Maryland 20707
    7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday-Friday

Before buying a permit, please call 301-206-4386 (4FUN) to ensure that the area you want to use is open for recreation.

The watershed recreation user program is coordinated and supervised by members of WSSC Water's Production Team System Control Division. Staff oversee management of the forested properties, maintenance of trails and roads, regulation of the sale of user permits and communication with recreation users. For information about the program, call the Brighton Dam Visitor’s Center at 301-206-7485.

Last Modified: March 29, 2021, 8:28 am EDT