State Water Resources Research Institute Program


Project ID: 2012DC139B
Title: Evaluating Water Management Alternatives in the Upper Potomac River Basin for the District of Columbia Source Water Protection
Project Type: Research
Start Date: 3/01/2012
End Date: 2/28/2013
Congressional District: DC
Focus Categories: Hydrology, Management and Planning, Water Quantity
Keywords: water resources planning, water supply capacity building, best management practices
Principal Investigators: Deksissa, Tolessa; Moltz, Heidi; Palmer, James
Federal Funds: $ 8,717
Non-Federal Matching Funds: $ 29,560
Abstract: The Potomac River is the sole source of water for the residents of the District of Columbia. Protection of the source waters is crucial for sustainable development of the city. A holistic, integrated, and adaptive approach to water resources planning is necessary in these dynamic times with, for example, increasing demand for clean water supplies and the impacts of climate change on water resources. Utilizing this type of approach, the purpose of this study is to evaluate water resources management alternatives towards long term water resources sustainability in the Marsh and Rock creek watersheds, located in the Monocacy watershed of the upper Potomac River Basin above the D.C. water supply intakes.

To protect the source water of the Washington, D.C. Metro Area, the Potomac Drinking Water Source Protection Partnership (DWSPP) has identified the Upper Monocacy region as a focal area for outreach, education, and collaboration. The Marsh and Rock creek watersheds comprise 143 square miles in Adams County Pennsylvania, the headwaters of the Monocacy River, a major tributary of the Potomac River. Proactive, effective management of the water supplies in these watersheds affects not only the local communities but the millions of downstream residents relying on water supply from the Potomac River.

In January 2011, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) designated the combined Marsh and Rock watersheds as a Critical Water Planning Area (CWPA) under Act 220 of 2002 - one of only three designations in the Commonwealth. The designation resulted from a screening process indicating that the demands in Marsh and Rock creeks may exceed supply under certain conditions.

After designation as a CWPA, the process of developing a Critical Area Resource Plan (CARP) began, as specified by the legislation and PADEP guidance documents. The Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin (ICPRB) was contracted by PADEP to conduct the technical work and facilitate participation by a local advisory group, the Potomac Regional Committee, and the Statewide Water Resources Committee. The goal of the CARP planning process is to identify a detailed list of water availability issues in the watersheds and develop practical, implementable solutions to identified issues. The plan is scheduled for completion in late September 2012.

The objectives of the proposed project are to 1) evaluate management alternatives recommended by the Marsh/Rock local oversight committee utilizing principles of surface hydrology, hydrogeology, hydraulics, and engineering; 2) present the research results to the advisory committee; 3) prepare a technical report on the findings; and 4) prepare the draft and final Critical Area Resource Plan.

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