Water utility, Maryland agree on plan to reduce pollutants

WASHINGTON (AP) — The utility that provides water to the Washington suburbs in Maryland has reached an agreement with state officials and environmental groups to cut pollutants discharged into the Potomac River.

Jay Apperson, spokesman for the Maryland Department of the Environment, said Wednesday that the agency and environmental groups have reached an agreement with the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission.

The commission provides drinking water to most of Montgomery County and parts of Prince George’s County in Maryland. The agreement requires it to improve its Potomac Water Filtration Plant to reduce pollutants, including sediment, discharged to the river.

The pact also requires WSSC to pay a $100,000 penalty to resolve alleged violations of the facility’s discharge permit.

Eric Schaefer, director of the Environmental Integrity Project, says he’s often walked the area near the WSSC treatment plant in Potomac. He says over the years, it appeared to him that a large amount of solids or pollutants were being discharged into the river from the treatment plant.

“If you enjoy the river, if you enjoy the canal, if you boat around there, I think you’d enjoy the river more when it’s clearer,” says Schaefer.

Jerry Johnson, WSSC’s CEO, says it important for the utility to move forward with the improvements.

“Water quality is our business—that’s what we’re here for, and so we want to do what we can to make the water quality the best,” says Jim Neustadt, WSSC Director of Communications.

WTOP contributed to this report.

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