Water in the Potomac River goes over a small weir in front of the WSSC treatment plant in Potomac, Md. (Michael Williamson/The Washington Post)

A Maryland utility serving the Washington suburbs wants to install a new pipe to draw drinking water from the middle of the Potomac River, saying that water would have less sediment during rainstorms than the water it now draws from the shoreline.

The Washington Suburban Sanitation Commission (WSSC), which provides drinking water to nearly 2 million people in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, is seeking public comments on its environmental impact study for a new pipe and has scheduled a July 14 public meeting on the proposal.

WSSC said its pipe that now draws water from the river into its water filtration plant in western Montgomery County is too close to shore. During storms, the utility said, water near the shoreline gets heavy sediment from local run-off, particularly from the nearby Watts Branch, which is in the midst of heavy development upstream. Water in the middle of the river is cleaner, and its quality is more stable, the utility said.

Because parts of WSSC’s treatment plant in Potomac are within the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park, the utility had to conduct environmental impact studies as part of seeking a construction permit from the National Park Service.

The public can review the studies at parkplanning.nps.gov.

The public meeting will be held 7 to 9 p.m. July 14 at Potomac Library, 10101 Glenolden Dr., Potomac.

Public comments on the environmental studies are due by Aug. 14.