Commentary: West Montgomery County Citizens Association: Potomac Master Plan Threatened — Again

Commentary: West Montgomery County Citizens Association: Potomac Master Plan Threatened — Again

Next Meeting

The West Montgomery County Citizens Association will meet at the Potomac Community Center on Wednesday, Nov. 8, 7:15 p.m. If schools are closed because of inclement weather, the meeting will be cancelled.

Diane Cameron will speak on “The Danger of Expanding Sewer Pipes into Low Density Zones.” With degrees in both geology and environmental engineering, Cameron is former conservation director for the Audubon Naturalist Society (ANS) and founder of the Stormwater Partners Network comprised of 23 organizations dedicated to promoting clean water in the region. She specializes in urban watershed protection and restoration using green infrastructure techniques and serves as a consultant to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). Cameron has guided watershed policy for Conservation Montgomery as a founding board member and currently works as a private consultant.

As always, the public is welcome to attend.

Montgomery County is fortunate to have grown on the foundation of visionary planning. We have a General Plan and individual area Master Plans. One of the functions of a civic organization like WMCCA is to keep watch over the planning documents. Our Potomac Subregion Master Plan is based on protecting natural resources that contribute to the public drinking water supply.

This accounts for our low density zoning, our numerous stream valley parks, even how our roads are configured. Key to maintaining all of these assets and protecting drinking water is limiting the expansion of sewer.

This restraint on sewer applies to the "green wedge" residential zone in the eastern county and especially to the Agricultural Reserve. The county is now proposing changes to the Ten-Year Comprehensive Water Supply and Sewerage Systems Plan that would weaken support for low density areas which serve as buffers to water quality protection. They would establish a new pro-sewer policy called "special sewer service area" that changes the basis for recommending a category change from septic to public sewer.

For the most part, sewers require gravity to function and so drain to the lowest land possible — alongside streams. These pipes require massive disturbance to forested stream valleys and allow increased development. When they leak or break (which happens more than we realize), thousands of gallons of effluent pollution are released directly into our creeks.

Properly maintained septic systems are safe and do not constitute the sweeping public health hazard created by broken sewer pipes. Most of us give little thought to what happens when we flush our toilets or pour something down our drains. Yet where that effluent goes and how it gets there is the very basis of our zoning, planning, and community character. We are blessed with abundant open space, a greener community, and clean drinking water because we limit sewer expansion. Please attend our meeting and find out why changes to long held sewer policy apply to every resident of our community.

Old Angler's Cove Development Plan

By Ginny Barnes

Plan # 020170290 proposed 4 lot subdivision on 1.87 acres - R-200 Zone. This land adjoins the C&O National Historic Park (NHP). The current proposal shows no easements to buffer the National Parkland.

While easements appear on maps generated during a previous ownership, this proposed subdivision indicates no easements have yet been required.

Virtually all properties adjoining the narrow corridor of the NHP require easements to buffer parkland, WMCCA will request they be a condition of the subdivision.

Lawn Pesticides And Chemical Drift

By Ken Bawer

In October 2015, the County Council enacted Bill 52-14, Pesticides - Notice Requirements - Cosmetic Pesticide Use Restrictions, which would have prohibited the use of certain registered pesticides on private property starting on Jan. 1, 2018. The county is one of the few local jurisdictions to have such restrictions. The council enacted this legislation with a focus on pesticides that included chemicals linked to the risk of developing cancer. Complete Lawn Care, Inc., et al. v. Montgomery County invalidated certain provisions of Bill 52-14 because the Circuit Court found that county regulation of the use of pesticides on private property is preempted by state law.

On Aug. 16, 2017, the Montgomery County Council directed the Office of the County Attorney to appeal the Montgomery County Circuit Court ruling that overturned the county’s cosmetic pesticides ban. In the meantime, if you are subjected to chemical drift from pesticides applied to a lawn you can file a complaint with the Maryland Department of Agriculture's Pesticide Regulation Department. Go to the web site:, and find the form on the right hand side called "File a Complaint against a Pest Control Firm or Applicator" (5th document from the bottom) or, go directly to the form at The completed form can be emailed to:

All pesticides have restrictions on usage during windy days and/or rain, so you should indicate the approximate wind speed (you can use for Rockville, for example). You can ask to be informed exactly which chemical compounds were applied. For extra impact, copy:, this group is instrumental in the lawn pesticide ban effort.

If you have any issues or concerns in your neighborhood, contact WMCCA. Input from residents are welcome; WMCCA is glad to review and address issues as they affect the Potomac Subregion Master Plan, zoning, and environmental threats to the “Green Wedge,” creeks and water supplies, and the Agricultural Reserve. Help support its efforts in defending the Master Plan. Renew or become a new member of WMCCA. See