Integrating Water-related Climate Change Adaptation into Local Comprehensive Plans

Overview of Maryland’s Climate Planning Requirements

As noted in the Background section, in 2015 the Maryland Commission on Climate Change was codified into law (Environment Article §§2-1301 through 1306) requiring State agencies to review their “planning, regulatory, and fiscal programs to identify and recommend actions to more fully integrate the consideration of Maryland’s greenhouse gas reduction goal and the impacts of climate change”. This includes explicit consideration of sea level rise, storm surges and flooding, increased temperature and precipitation, and extreme weather (Environment Article §2-1305(b)). The legislation also calls on the Maryland Commission on Climate Change, which includes state agencies, to assist “local governments in supporting community-scale climate vulnerability assessments and the development and integration of specific strategies into local plans and ordinances” (Environment Article §2-1303(d)(10)). 

These statutory changes, as well as additional state legislation mandating nuisance flood plans for coastal jurisdictions, siting and design guidelines for certain state-funded buildings, and a statewide plan​ to adapt to saltwater intrusion and salinization, all have a direct impact on water resource management programs and policies; therefore, the WRE should account for current and projected climate change impacts. 

Also, as noted below, the Sensitive Areas Element of local comprehensive plans has a related function by ensuring the local designation of sensitive areas, such as floodplains, which are key to protecting water resources, water-related infrastructure, communities, and natural resources from water-related climate change impacts.

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