Prettyboy, Liberty and Loch Raven reservoirs will be reopened to boat fishermen this year by the Baltimore Department of Public Works, which had banned boats last spring while evaluating a potential problem with zebra mussels.
"The reservoirs will reopen on March 1," said Vanessa Pyatt, of DPW's information office.
"We will start renewing licenses the week of Feb. 15, and permits will be issued the following week."
Boat fishermen will be allowed to return to the reservoirs if they sign an affidavit restricting the use of their boats to the three city reservoirs between March 1 and Nov. 30.
Under the guidelines for this season, boats with gasoline engines will not be allowed on the reservoirs. In past years, boats could have gasoline engines installed, but the engines could not be run.
Boats will be limited to those 18 feet and under. Electric motors will be allowed.
The reason for the restricted use of boats is because reservoir managers continue to work to prevent zebra mussel infestation and because young mussels may be transported from one body of water to another on boat hulls and submerged appendages.
The mussels reproduce rapidly and can cause major problems for water supply facilities by clogging intake pipes and reducing productivity.
The use of live baits also will be prohibited.
"We are glad to see the reservoirs will be reopened," said Duke Nohe, chairman of the Maryland Aquatic Resources Coalition, formed last spring after the reservoirs were closed and which has been lobbying for reinstatement of boat fishing since.
"We have been looking forward to this for a year."
Pyatt said that the DPW reserves the right to reinstate the moratorium on boat fishing and will re-evaluate the current program after the close of the season on Nov. 30.
The DPW plans to install equipment in intake pipes that would eliminate the possibility of mussel contamination from the Susquehanna River.
That work is expected to be completed by October 1994.