Part 1: Guidelines | I. The Water Resources Element Law

Statutory Requirements

Section 1.03 (iii) of Article 66B of the Annotated Code of Maryland mandates that all Maryland counties and municipalities that exercise planning and zoning authority prepare and adopt a water resources element in their comprehensive plans.

What the Water Resources Element Means for Local Jurisdictions

Local jurisdictions must:

  • Identify drinking water and other water resources that will be adequate for the needs of existing and future development proposed in the land use element of the plan, considering available data provided by the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE).
  • Identify suitable receiving waters and land areas to meet the storm water management and wastewater treatment and disposal needs of existing and future development proposed in the land use element of the plan, considering available data provided by MDE.
  • Adopt a WRE in the comprehensive plan on or before October 1, 2009, unless extensions are granted by MDP pursuant to law.

Zoning classifications of a property may not be changed after October 1, 2009 (or as extended) if a jurisdiction has not adopted the WRE in its comprehensive plan.

What the Water Resources Element Means for State Agencies

The mandates of Maryland Departments of Planning (MDP) and the Environment under this law are:

  • MDE must review the WRE to determine whether the proposed plan is consistent with the programs and goals of the department as reflected in the general water resources program required under § 5-203 of the Environment Article.
  • MDE shall provide technical assistance upon written request to a local government on the development of the WRE of the comprehensive plan. 
  • MDP and other state agencies must review the WRE as part of their review of all comprehensive plan components under the 60-day review requirement of the Planning Act.​
  • MDP may grant up to two six-month extensions to a local government upon written request by a local planning agency if that local government shows good cause for extending the time limit in order to be able to comply with the WRE implementation date.

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