Potomac River May Need To Withdraw Water From Two Reservoirs

A report from ICPRB says there’s a less than 20% chance the river flow will run low.

Potomac River (Photo from Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin)

Rockville, Md (KM) There’s an above-normal possibility that water stored at the Jennings Randolph and Little Seneca reservoirs could be released into the Potomac River so that communities along the waterway have sufficient drinking water. That’s’ according to a report from the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin. “And indeed there’s a higher than normal probability that releases of reservoir water may be needed to meet the Metropolitan Area water demands, ” says Curtis Dalpra, the Communications Manager for the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin.

The ICPRB report says there is an 11% to 19% :”conditional probability” that natural Potomac River flow will drop below 600-million to 700-million gallons per day. at Little Falls through December 31st, 2022. “At these flow levels, water supply releases from the Jennings Randolph and Little Seneca reservoirs may occur,” the report says.

Dalpra says there’s no cause for alarm right now. “I don’t think the higher number is really anything far out of the norm,” says Dalpra. “It’s still less than 20%, well less than 20%.”

The Jennings Randolph reservoir is located at the West Branch of the Potomac River in Garrett County. Little Seneca reservoir is in Boyds in Montgomery County.

Many communities along the waterway rely on the Potomac River for their drinking water. Dalpra says they won’t notice any difference if water is drawn from one or both reservoirs into the Potomac. “Water stored in reservoirs up on the North Branch of the Potomac would make releases that would keep water levels in the Potomac at a point where major utilities could get the water they wanted out of the Potomac, while ensuring enough water for the ecological maintenance of the River,” he says.

He says right now consumers who rely on the Potomac River for their water needs don’t have to panic about having no water. “People don’t have that much to worry about because of an ongoing process involving multiple agencies and water suppliers that are working all the time to make sure there’s enough water to meet the demands, and provide the ecology that the river needs,” says Dalpra.

But he says it’s always a good idea to conserve water wherever possible, even when supplies are plentiful.

The Commission’s report says precipitation in the Potomac River basin is below normal, but groundwater is at a normal level, and the River’s flow remains at near normal.

By Kevin McManus