Tuesday, November 20, 2012

WSSC Trail Use Study Released.

The WSSC presented the study at their meeting on November 19. Here's a report from Barbara Sollner-Webb:

"First was a video they made on public use of their watershed land and water, which I felt was very positive (starting with Terry Ledley by the Terry Ledley equestrian trail sign, and also showing Ron MacNab and other users).  Later in the meeting, they presented a PowerPoint description of the study recently completed by their contractor (EA Engineering), which again sounded very positive and conciliatory.  It seems that EA quite accurately reported the Access Road (aka "Firebreak" or "Jeep Trail") is substantially more of a problem than the equestrian use, and totally banning equestrian was not discussed.  They said they will be having more public input meetings, soon, and then decide on a plan.  They mentioned several possibilities for a future plan, some positive for equestrians (including even the chance of re-opening riding on the Access Road at the Tridelphia!) and some quite worrisome (increasing user fees to offset their expected increased costs; limiting the number of riders; only allowing organized group rides, not individual riders).  We have to stay on top, and testify at those upcoming meetings , whenever they are announced!
   EA Engineering's report and and WSSC's new video were just posted on WSSC homepage <http://www.wsscwater.com>.  Under the tab "Our Watershed and You" is "Watershed Study", and within it, click "independent study" to get the introductory video (it can also be accessed on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3RnEsvep6MQ) and to get EA's full report (downloadable, as PDF).   Also, click "Read more", and under it click "Study Finding and Recommendations" to the PowerPoint presentation from Gary Gumm from this morning; or uner "Read more", click "Next Steps" to get a PowerPoint we were not shown, but basically Jay Price's part of the presentation this morning.  His slide #10 summarizes the worrisome possibilities they are already suggesting.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

WSSC to release watershed use (including horseback riding trails) report on Monday

According to the Gazette, "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."