The Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission plans to release a report Monday detailing a consultant's recommendations on how the utility should manage the watershed around WSSC reservoirs to best protect the drinking water of 1.8 million customers.
Commissioners are expected to discuss the report at their Nov. 19 meeting at WSSC headquarters in Laurel.
The report looks at short-, medium- and long-term changes that could be made to protect the watershed, WSSC spokesman Jim Neustadt said.
“There are major recommendations about security, access roads and patrolling the area,” he said.
Last year, the water and sewer utility cut back the hours and months that horseback riders and boaters could access WSSC reservoir areas as a means to reduce erosion and keep pollutants from running into the reservoir.
Horseback riders, who were upset that they received little notice and that they were rerouted from long-used, designated trails to poorly maintained access roads, gathered hundreds of signatures on a petition asking the utility to let them return to the old trails.
The restrictions have remained in place while consultants for the WSSC evaluated land-management practices that are needed to foster a healthy watershed and water source.
Neustadt said the utility did not consider closing the watershed to all recreation — as WSSC General Manager Jerry N. Johnson also said in a commentary piece appearing in this edition of The Gazette — but that the utility cannot put the interest of any group over that of customers who drink WSSC water.
Letters are being sent to stakeholders and meetings are being scheduled with environmental, community, civic and recreational groups, Neustadt said.
Those meetings will be followed by a public forum, but the utility already has gotten a lot of information from stakeholders, he said.
The utility wants to make sure that regulations are in place in time for opening the watershed to public use in the spring 2013, Neustadt said.