Linking the Comprehensive Plan with the County Water and Sewerage Plan (CWSP)
HB 1141 does not explicitly address the relationship of the WRE to the County Water and Sewerage Plan (CWSP), nor does Article 66B. However, the County Water and Sewerage Plan statute does require the CWSP to be consistent with local comprehensive plans. Because of this consistency requirement, and because it is clear that these two local plans must be closely connected, it is critical that the WRE be drafted in a manner that supports the County Water and Sewerage Plans.
The technical requirements and information necessary to prepare the WRE substantially overlap with those required to prepare a County Water and Sewerage Plan. The commonality between these plans stems from the reality that both must operate within the context of water resources regulations and the physical capabilities and limitations of water resources. The differences are related to policy and content. The comprehensive plan sets out the broad land use and development policies for the jurisdiction, whereas the County Water and Sewerage Plan must follow and help to implement, not make, local land use policy. The County Water and Sewerage Plan will contain more technical data and analysis than the comprehensive plan and it lays out the capital programs for water and sewerage facilities that are necessary to fulfill the comprehensive plan.
Figure 3 below compares the basic legal requirements of the County Water and Sewerage Plan and the local comprehensive plan. It depicts a grey area between the two plans since the details and exact nature of their interface may vary somewhat. However, the local comprehensive plan, including the WRE, and the County Water and Sewerage Plan should address and define this relationship in a manner that clearly fulfills the mandates and processes associated with each planning requirement. Ideally, the interface should be seamless.
The County Water and Sewerage Plan is a functional plan that supports the implementation of both county and municipal comprehensive plans. The fact that the County Water and Sewerage Plan must address all systems (e.g., county, municipal, private) underscores the need for very close interjurisdictional coordination for these combined planning processes to be effective.
Various sections later in this guidance document discuss more specifically how links between these plans can be addressed. At a minimum, the WRE should provide adequate guidance to the Water and Sewerage Plan by including:
- Countywide and small area population projections that carry over to, and are used in, the County Water and Sewerage Plan.
- Maps that show the limits of community service areas, showing stages for, at a minimum, the current, 10-year projected and ultimate build-out. These areas should bear a reasonable relationship to projected population growth and land consumption; development capacity; and any municipal growth elements.
- Maps that show the relationships among jurisdictional, watershed, service area, Priority Funding Area(s), growth areas and any other relevant boundaries.
Growth areas should reflect those shown in the municipal growth element.
- Policies that support the requirement in the County Water and Sewerage Plan law that the capacities of water and sewerage facilities may not be exceeded, and
ensure that the locations, amounts and staging of growth, development and service areas must be within the capacities of both the support infrastructure and water resources.
- Actions recommended to obtain needed water resource information; evaluate alternative measures to meet future needs; and adopt new or revised ordinances and regulations to ensure the protection of water resources.