Checklist of Best Practices to Integrate Climate Change Adaptation
The following is a checklist of local government actions to support the WRE requirements to ensure adequate drinking water and sufficient wastewater capacity, and to identify suitable receiving waters given climate change-driven water impacts to stormwater runoff, water resources, water infrastructure and communities. Although at this time the state cannot provide tools or models to assist local governments in determining exactly how, when or where water, wastewater or stormwater will be impacted by climate change, the WRE should include strategies now to recognize, plan for, and respond to the possible constraints on water availability and wastewater discharge, as well as impacts to water and wastewater, and stormwater infrastructure, that could occur due to climate change. The WRE also should include strategies to recognize and respond to changes in stormwater runoff (both quantity and quality) due to climate change:
Checklist of Local Government Actions to Inform the Statutory Requirement for State Agencies to Encourage Integration of Climate Strategies into Local Plans (Environment Article §2–1301 et. seq.)
❏ Assess Water Hazard Risks: As a preliminary activity, become familiar with and assess key water hazard risks so that the WRE can consider ways of avoiding or reducing those risks with respect to new development. Consider FEMA’s seven community lifelines that enable the continuous operation of critical business and government functions.
❏ Account for Climate Change Adaptation in the WRE Analysis: When conducting WRE analyses, consider the need for climate change adaptation and opportunities for resilience building that will help reduce vulnerability to identified and potential water hazards and ensure sufficient water quantity and quality protection. To ensure adequate water and wastewater capacity to support planned growth and development, and to ensure the identification of suitable receiving waters given expected stormwater and wastewater impacts of planned growth and development, the WRE analyses should integrate climate change adaptation when assessing:
❏ Water supply availability
❏ Water demand projection
❏ Wastewater flow projection
❏ Stormwater quantity (local flooding impacts)
❏ Stormwater quality (pollutant impacts)
❏ Suitability of areas for septic systems, e.g., consider expected changes in water tables given that some areas proposed for septic systems could become waterlogged in the near future, preventing the proper functioning of these systems.
❏ Land use plans
❏ After considering climate change adaptation needs, local governments should include strategies within the WRE and Sensitive Areas Element to address them. The WRE should include strategies to recognize, plan for, and respond to the possible constraints on water availability and wastewater discharge, as well as impacts to water and wastewater, and stormwater infrastructure, that could occur due to climate change. The WRE also should include strategies to recognize and respond to changes in stormwater runoff (both quantity and quality) due to climate change.
❏ To support the WRE, the Sensitive Areas Element should be used to identify important areas to protect or safeguard water resources; communities and infrastructure vulnerable to water-related hazards (e.g., sea level rise, saltwater intrusion, and flooding); and opportunities to protect wetland and coastal forest adaptation areas (i.e., corridors along which coastal habitats are expected to migrate naturally as sea level rises). The Sensitive Area Element should include strategies to protect these areas, communities and opportunities. Also, the Sensitive Area Element should include strategies that support sufficient protection and restoration of natural spaces and natural features from the standpoint of providing needed local flood prevention services; these natural spaces and features can provide significant infiltration and attenuation of stormwater. The WRE and Sensitive Areas Element should be updated in a way to ensure a strong connection between the two.
❏ Wellhead protection areas, reservoir watersheds, land areas underlain by karst geology, and other sensitive areas relevant to protecting water supplies, along with floodplains and stream buffers (and other sensitive areas relevant to flood management) should be discussed within the Sensitive Areas Element and, when not already protected through state requirements, proposed for protection through recommended strategies.
❏ The goals and strategies from the WRE and Sensitive Areas Element should be integrated with, and can set general goals and policy direction, for other local plans and studies that outline water hazards (e.g., local hazard mitigation plan). If any of these plans and studies identify needs or other deficiencies that still need to be addressed, the WRE or Sensitive Areas Element should include strategies for completing the necessary studies or actions to resolve them.
❏ The WRE should be used to plan for more frequent floods caused by climate change, and to reduce flood induced pollutants to local waters and the Chesapeake Bay with the assistance of the major state agencies responsible for the Comprehensive Flood Control and Watershed Management Program.