Newsletter – February 2018

February 2018

Parks Work for Water Quality Protection

President’s Letter – by Ginny Barners

By and large, sewers are constructed in stream valleys as they are the lowest point in any landscape. This is one of the reasons WMCCA has opposed wholesale extension of sewer in low density areas of the County. First, the forest is cleared beside the stream. Heavy machinery is brought in to dig and install the pipe. Sewer pipes cross and recross streams and finally hook up to a central distribution carrier like the Dulles Interceptor. Once sewers are installed, the stream will be altered forever. Their presence underground acts as a conduit, draining natural wetlands. They can leak and break, spilling sewage and creating a widespread health hazard. The Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) operates and maintains more than 5,400 miles of sewer pipeline in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. Most of these pipes were constructed in the late 1940’s and 50’s and are nearing the end of their useful lives. The WSSC is engaged in several visible sewer rehab projects. One such is underway in Cabin John Creek. We’ve seen the equipment staged along River Road near the Beltway. Sewer rehabilitation is invasive but with most of our stream valleys in parkland, it gives Park engineers like our speaker a chance to partner with WSSC in creating wetlands and replanting as the heavy machinery pulls out.

Another recent visible project involved Parks partnering with the County Department of Transportation (DOT) when the bridge over Watts Branch on Piney Meetinghouse Road was replaced. The construction did impact the stream but offered a chance to restore a more natural streambank and plant trees on it after the project was complete. The result is visible from the new bridge.

With controversial proposals like the mid river intake, an attempt to bypass the silt in Watts Branch that enters the Potomac River at the WSSC Water Filtration Plant intake on River Road, we need to be talking about how to clean up the polluted stormwater coming into Watts Branch rather than simply bypassing it with a long straw into the River. As a source of drinking water for about 3 million people in the region, Watts Branch deserves better. With what we know now about merging biological and engineering expertise, making Watts Branch cleaner is well worth the effort.

Update on Ten Year Water & Sewer Plan by Ken Bawer:

Some good news: due to the actions of the Montgomery Coalition to Stop Sewer Sprawl, of which WMCCA is a founding member, the next round of meetings on Montgomery County’s draft Water & Sewer Plan ( – the full County Council work session – has been postponed until February 27, 2018.

The Water & Sewer Plan guides waste treatment and drinking water service for the entire County. At stake: the ability to preserve the Agricultural Reserve and its adjoining low-density areas (where we live) which protect our drinking water.

We will again be meeting with County Council staff and the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to demand changes in the draft Water & Sewer Plan to limit sewer line extensions into low density and rural areas. Sewer line extensions would threaten the quality of drinking water for 4.3 million Washington, DC area residents. Once sewer service is available, water quality and the environment inevitably degrade due to rezoning, higher density development, increased impervious surfaces, and increased stormwater runoff resulting in increased sediment and contaminants in streams.

One action that DEP is currently taking, and that could be codified in the new W&S Plan unless we act, is the use of bogus “septic sanitary surveys” in a back-door effort to sprawl sewer lines into low density and rural areas. The most egregious aspect is that properties are being declared public health problems and recommended for sewer service that do not even have failed or potentially failing septic systems. We have sent letters to both DEP and County Executive Ike Leggett asking that these sham “septic sanitary surveys” be temporarily halted. While the WMCCA Board is working this issue, individuals can also help. Please send a short note to County Executive Leggett at and copy the County Council at with a message such as:

“I am asking for a common sense pause in DEP septic surveys, including the on-going North Potomac Highlands Septic Survey, until such time that the public and Council can vet the survey process and have the opportunity to provide feedback.I am outraged that the County wants to push sewer pipes into low density areas which will threaten our clean streams. WSSC spilled more than 9 million gallons of raw sewage into streams in the last 3 years, and more that 4 thousand gallons in the last 3 years into Muddy Branch and Watts Branch where my friends, neighbors, and children walk and play.”

Do not allow DEP’s flawed “septic surveys” to sprawl sewer lines into our long protected low density and rural areas.”

So that we can see how effectively our message is reaching our elected officials, please copy

DUES REMINDER: If you have not already renewed your membership, please do so today. We count on your dues to cover the cost of our newsletter. Individual $25 / Family $50. We also welcome donations to our Legal Fund. Please share your email address with us so we can send you meeting reminders and action alerts. You can note your email address in your membership renewal, or send an email to if you would like to have notices in an electronic format.

WMCCA is actively looking for volunteers for:
Website Assistance Needed
by Peter Poggi:

WMCCA is looking for someone to help modernize and share long term responsibility for updating our website and posting the monthly online newsletter.

While the current website has served us well since 2003, it is built upon an outdated Microsoft Frontpage 2003 platform, written entirely in HTML using frames, and reliant upon one individual. Our objectives are twofold. First and foremost, we need to have a trained backup who will share responsibility for maintaining the current site alongside our current website administrator. Once familiarized with the site, this responsibility will require a minimal time commitment of less than 30 minutes monthly. Our second goal is to identify and begin transforming the site to a more maintainable, perhaps template driven platform. This will require gaining an understanding of the existing website structure and working closely with the WMCCA Board and website administrator to come up with a suitable design.

Interested candidates should have a current background in current document management type website design and development methodologies, and a familiarity with available hosting options. Please contact Peter Poggi,

If you have any issues or concerns in your neighborhood, please contact WMCCA.  We appreciate the input from our neighbors and are glad to review and address issues as they affect the Potomac Subregion Master Plan, zoning, and environmental threats to the “Green Wedge”, our creeks and water supplies, and the Agricultural Reserve. 

Help support our efforts in defending the Master Plan. Renew or become a new member of WMCCA. Look for your renewal notice in the mail or go to our website to download a membership form or join using PayPal

West Montgomery County Citizens Association Newsletter
P. O. Box 59335
Potomac, MD 20854-9335
President – Ginny Barnes 301 762-6423
Newsletter – Lois Williams

The Newsletter is published monthly, and the Board of Directors meets each month. We welcome any suggestions for upcoming meeting topics and ways to further utilize our web site (

Check the web site for information on issues we are working on.

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