As environmental stewards of the community, caring for the environment is a constant concern for Brian Mosby, former superintendent at the Western Branch Water Resource Recovery Facility (WRRF). The work of the facility protects the public from a host of diseases untreated waste can cause. “The water we discharge is cleaner than the water upstream,” Mosby said.
Western Branch has one of the most stringent environmental permits of any treatment plant in Maryland. The facility treats more than 6 billion gallons of wastewater per year. The treated effluent is then released into the Western Branch of the Patuxent River, part of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. WSSC’s job of keeping the water clean and uncontaminated keeps the community healthy.
Supporting our neighbors when they need help the most.
WSSC Water is committed to making your water and sewer bills more affordable. We’ve enhanced our Affordability Programs to provide financial assistance to more customers. Eligible residential customers can make payment arrangements and significantly reduce their bills. Learn more at wsscwater.com/assistance
By 1942, Brighton Dam reached a height capable of turning a stretch of the Patuxent into the 800-acre Triadelphia Lake. But the droughts that helped spur the creation of a new water source continued. The Washington Times described April 1942 as “the driest in 95 years.” Water flowing into the potential Triadelphia reservoir amounted to little more than a trickle, with little improvement over the next few months. Eventually, rain began to fill the watershed and the reservoir. By 1944, workers completed the 1,000-foot dam, creating a lake stretching five and a half miles upstream and 63-feet deep.
The reservoir created by the Brighton Dam became a popular recreation area for fishing and boating.
Lines of cars waiting to drop their boats in the reservoir.
Maintaining a clean, healthy watershed is important to the health of the community and to the environment.
WSSC has 5,477 acres of watershed property. Its land holdings represent about 6.5 percent of the total drainage area of the 132-square miles of the watersheds around the reservoirs. WSSC partners with other government agencies to help protect water quality on land beyond its control. In 1996, the Patuxent Reservoirs Watershed Protection Partnership was created and includes WSSC, the governments of Howard, Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, the Howard and Montgomery County Soil Conservation Districts and the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission.
The Patuxent River, Maryland’s longest river, runs through the heart of the state and serves as the source of drinking water for one-third of WSSC’s customers. In order to protect source water, WSSC owns 5,477 acres of watershed property along the Patuxent River, including three reservoirs and Brighton Dam’s Azalea Garden, home to over 20,000 azalea bushes in a five-acre hardwood forest.
It is our belief that through an understanding of the natural environment, people will work to protect it. We promote and invite responsible recreation on our watershed properties. WSSC hosts over 50 clean-up and environmental education activities annually for the community to learn about and protect these natural resources.
During WWII, Montgomery and Prince George’s counties added to WSSC’s list of duties: trash collection. Controversy over fees, coupled with the shortage of equipment to remove trash, posed a challenge for WSSC. For a little more than two decades, WSSC provided trash services to the counties. In 1967, WSSC disbanded trash collection and the work was transferred to a private contractor.
The September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks led to the creation of the WSSC Police Department, providing security for infrastructure as a safeguard to potential threats against the vital resources our community needs.
WSSC has a robust outreach program in both Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. The efforts are intended not only to show students how WSSC operates, but also present opportunities in science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) fields. WSSC has collaborated with Prince George’s County Public Schools to integrate Fats, Oils and Grease (FOG) education into its middle school environmental science curriculum.
Older students participate in popular programs that incorporate topics from meter reading to engineering principles. Programs include Sewer Science, which teaches about resource recovery facilities and wastewater treatment, Water Works Academy and H2O Engineers.
One of WSSC’s annual events is the Children’s Water Festival, an outdoor event that has occurred for the past 12 years during National Drinking Water Week in early May. Annual education outreach efforts in classrooms and lessons provided to teachers culminate with a fun event that highlights the importance of water to everyday life.
WSSC invests more in the local community than just clean water. WSSC established the Business Investment Growth program, also known as BIG. WSSC partnered with local community banks to fund a loan pool for local businesses. Banks lend money to local businesses on a 2-to-1 basis — the banks loan $2 for every $1 WSSC provides to the loan pool.