Created in 1918, the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission governs the Washington Suburban Sanitary District (Chapter 122, Acts of 1918). The Commission provides water and treats sewerage in Prince George's and Montgomery counties, Maryland. In those two counties, it provides drinking water to nearly 2 million people, and is responsible for the construction, maintenance, and operation of water supply and sewerage systems. Indeed, the Commission operates and maintains more than 10,000 miles of water and sewer mains. It also regulates and inspects plumbing and gas-fitting installations, and sets customer rates for its suburban Maryland service area.

Two major water sources supply the Commission system: the Patuxent River through the Patuxent Filtration Plant, and the Potomac River through the Potomac River Filtration Plant. In addition, the Commission stores about 12 billion gallons of raw water at Rocky Gorge Reservoir in Prince George's and Montgomery counties, and at Triadelphia Lake in Montgomery County. Little Seneca Lake in Montgomery County and the Jennings Randolph Reservoir in West Virginia provide storage for an additional 17 billion gallons of water. To ensure water safety and quality, the Commission's laboratory in Montgomery County conducts approximately 500,000 tests annually.

Much of the sewage from the Commission service area is carried by trunk sewers into the District of Columbia and treated at the regional Blue Plains Pollution Control Plant in Washington, DC. Six other sewage disposal plants are operated by the Commission: in northern Montgomery County at Seneca Creek, Hyattstown, and Damascus; and in Prince George's County at Piscataway Bay (Accokeek), Upper Marlboro (Western Branch), and near Laurel (Parkway Waste Water Treatment Plant).

The Commission's annual budget is subject to joint approval by the Montgomery County Council and the Prince George's County Council.

Six members constitute the Commission: three from Montgomery County, and three from Prince George's County. Each county's members are named to four-year terms by the County Executive with County Council consent (Code Public Utilities Article, secs. 16-101 through 29-107).

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