Water Resources Goals and Recommendations
Land Use Plan Analysis
The county and towns, with assistance from the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE), reviewed and calculated the potential water supply from current and immediately available sources. It was determined that the Coastal Plain aquifers were more than adequate to meet the population projections in that region of the county. A comparable water availability assessment was conducted for the Piedmont region comparing the current water availability limitations for the town of Piedmont service area to current demands and development projections which illustrated the many challenges in meeting the water demands of any growth projection. Ultimately, it was decided that a modest growth projection be developed to help deal with previous growth issues and investigate solutions that would be economically feasible and supportable by existing and projected customers. It was noted that, for the Piedmont region, future growth is uncertain at this time based on source water availability alone. The land use analyses would progress with a very focused growth projection for this region, with all growth restrictions imposed until adequate public facilities were available.
The same population projections used to review and calculate potential water supply were used to calculate the generation of wastewater and test the initial assimilative capacities of receiving waters. These were found to be within reasonable limits with modifications to the treatment processes, implementation of best management practices (BMPs) and the use of offsets and trading measures. From this group of population, housing and employment projections, the county and towns were able to prepare comparative growth plans.
Next, each municipality prepared a series of future growth plans in cooperation with county planning personnel and evaluated patterns of low density sprawl development to high density smart growth development. Each plan scenario resulted in different nitrogen and phosphorus loading amounts and very different impervious surface footprints. Each land use scenario was evaluated against the environmental conditions and issues of each area and the need to repair damage caused by previous growth patterns and practices. To restore and protect its streams and rivers, the county introduced a watershed planning initiative to implement the Chesapeake Bay Tributary Strategy and to best manage expected development impacts within each of the county’s smaller sub-watersheds. Different scales were used for the land use plan analysis: political jurisdictions, infrastructure service areas and the watersheds of Coastmont County. After completing the evaluation, the county and municipalities chose the higher density smart growth model as the best land use plan goal.
Implementing the land use plan will require the county and towns to amend local subdivision regulations and zoning ordinances, enhance local stormwater management programs and tools and establish watershed development thresholds. These thresholds will focus on impervious surfaces, water supply, wastewater discharges and stream quality and how those factors relate to the amount of development impact that can be sustained without further degradation. The history of development in the county and towns has led to water supply and wastewater nutrient loading limits imposed by MDE that have affected the ability to continue such patterns. Each municipality will address its development and conservation issues to ensure implementation of the water resources element goals listed below.
Water Resources Element Goals
- Maintain and protect an adequate water supply to serve the residents of Coastmont County and collaborate with the town of Piedmont and the town of Forestville to serve current and future populations through 2030.
- Protect water supply from pollution and encroachment.
- Take steps to restore and protect water quality and contribute toward meeting water quality regulatory requirements in Coastmont County’s rivers and streams, including the Coastmont River and its tributaries, Jones Creek and Tides Creek and the Yorkie River and its tributaries, including Thistle Creek. This will require addressing current water quality impacts as well as future impacts from land development and population growth.
- Protect the habitat value of Coastmont County’s rivers and streams.
The water resources element goals provide direction to both county and town planning initiatives. Meeting the water resources element regulatory goals will entail requiring that new development be on smaller lot sizes, implementing water conservation, staging growth to the availability of needed water resources, clustering development while creating new forested areas, enhancing existing developed areas through infill and mixed-use zoning and implementing best management practices.
Water Resources Element Recommendations:
- Develop watershed planning and management guidelines and relate all development to its impact on the county’s water resources.
- Require that agricultural areas are supported and preserved by very low density zoning to prevent sprawl and slow the growth rate of impervious surfaces. To reduce nutrient impacts from agricultural areas, implement best management practices immediately.
- Connect septic systems in or near existing sewer service areas. In addition, establish a retrofit program funded by the Bay Restoration Fund to upgrade 40 failing septic systems in order to advance bionutrient reduction systems in the Chesapeake Bay Critical Areas.
- Retrofit developed town areas without stormwater management systems. All new permits issued must require full stormwater management implementation.
- Convert all wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) to enhanced nutrient reduction (ENR) systems and repair collection systems to minimize infiltration and inflow.
- Initiate development of spray irrigation systems for current WWTP surface discharges.
- Require mandatory clustering for all new development in rural areas with the provision of dedicated preservation land for groundwater banking. Require shared wastewater treatment systems for all subdivisions of four or more lots that are not able to connect to a public sewer system.
- Develop water conservation methods and policies and encourage innovative technologies for stormwater management such as bio-roofs.
Specific recommendations to address the town of Piedmont’s adequate water supply needs:
- Evaluate impacts from appropriating 2 MGD of water from the Coastmont River.
- Consider a town connection to Waverly area water supplies.
- Implement strong water conservation strategies.
- Investigate and correct water distribution leaks.