Created in 1918, the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission is a bi-county water and sewer agency that governs the Washington Suburban Sanitary District (Chapter 122, Acts of 1918).

[photo, Annapolis office, Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, 7 State Cicle, Annapolis, Maryland] The Commission provides water and treats sewerage to the Districts, which covers Prince George's and Montgomery counties, Maryland. In those two counties, the Commission 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.

Annapolis office, Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, 7 State Cicle, Annapolis, Maryland, December 2016. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.

Water Sources. Two major water sources supply the Commission system. The Patuxent River is one source tapped through the Patuxent River Water Filtration Plant, which lies east of Burtonsville near Laurel in Prince George's County. The other source is the Potomac River treated by the Potomac River Water Filtration Plant in western Montgomery County. 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.

Sewage Treatment. 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. Three are in northern Montgomery County at Seneca Creek, Hyattstown, and Damascus. The three plants in Prince George's County include the Piscataway Wastewater Treatment Plant at Piscataway Bay (Accokeek); and one each at 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).

Dams & Reservoirs. The Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission owns and operates three dams.

Completed in 1944, the Brighton Dam provides source drinking water for customers in the Washington Suburban Sanitary District. Located in Brookeville, the Dam spans the Patuxent River between Montgomery and Howard counties, creating the Tridelphia Reservoir.

The T. Howard Duckett Dam has operated since 1954. It spans the Patuxent River between Prince George's and Howard counties, creating the Rocky Gorge Reservoir.

Little Seneca Dam is at Boyds (Montgomery County), Maryland, in Black Hill Regional Park, which is run by the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission. The Dam creates Little Seneca Lake, which is part of the Washington Metropolitan Regional Water Supply.

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