Horseback riders battle WSSC over trail access

LAUREL, Md. (AP) - Horseback riders are at odds with the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission after the utility blocked access to a trail that's been used for decades.

The WSSC says the trail is sending horse waste and sediment into the drinking water supply. The utility provides water to 1.8 million people in Montgomery and Prince George's counties.

The 18-mile trail is on land owned by the WSSC surrounding the Patuxent River's Rocky Gorge Reservoir. The Patuxent provides about 30 percent of the drinking water to WSSC customers.

Horseback riding is now allowed only on an access road on the edge of WSSC property. But riders say the road has sent far more soil into nearby streams than the old trail did. They say nearly two dozen area stables depend on the trail.