The area's bicounty water and sewer utility should consider more restrictions and higher permit fees on its property surrounding the Patuxent River reservoirs, according to a consultant's report.
The recommendation to raise the price of permits — required for horseback riding, fishing and boating around or on the reservoirs — was meant to have users of trails, parking lots and boat ramps pay for those amenities and their upkeep rather than ratepayers.
The Patuxent and Potomac rivers are sources of drinking water for the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, which serves 1.8 million customers in Montgomery and Prince George's counties.
Areas around the T. Howard Duckett Reservoir near Laurel and Triadelphia Reservoir near Brighton need more policing, more fencing, better signs to restrict access and activities and a detailed fire-protection plan for the WSSC-owned woodlands around them, EA Engineering, Science, and Technology said in its report presented to WSSC commissioners Monday.
At the Duckett reservoir, also known as Rocky Gorge, fire and police access roads where horseback riders were rerouted last year, much to their chagrin, are “significantly eroded,” the Hunt Valley, Md.-based engineering firm found. The rerouting was to move the users farther from the reservoir and to reduce runoff.
In many places the access roads are not safe for horses or fire and police vehicles, according to the report.
Around the watershed, the access roads are the “dominant source” of sediments and associated runoff contaminants from WSSC property, the report stated.
Pollutant loads from smaller trails, such as those long used by horseback riders and fishermen, are “substantially smaller,” the report said.
The utility is planning to meet with stakeholder groups, including recreational users, with the goal of publishing a draft of new regulations in January for comment.
WSSC officials want new regulations approved in time for them to take effect when the watershed reopens for use in the spring.
Less than 1 percent of the WSSC's customers buy the $60 recreational use permits, according to the WSSC.