Resource Conservation

Water Resources

Planning provides guidance, review, and technical assistance to local jurisdictions when they prepare and update Water and Sewerage Plans to ensure consistency with local comprehensive plans and state growth policies. In 2006, Maryland’s General Assembly passed House Bill 1141 highlighting the importance of water resource management to growth-related impacts on Maryland’s waterways and the Chesapeake Bay. This law requires local comprehensive plans to include, among other requirements, a Water Resources Element (WRE) and Municipal Growth Element (MGE).

Planning provides technical assistance and planning guidance to local governments to help prepare and update these plans. 

For requests for state funding for water and sewer projects outside Priority Funding Areas, MDP works with MDE and other state agencies to review PFA exception requests.

Water Resources Element Guidance

The Water Resources Element (WRE), a statutory requirement for local comprehensive plans, is designed to ensure that local plans for growth and development can be supported given limitations and constraints of water resources and water, sewer and stormwater infrastructure. Local governments should complete the WRE in order to identify and analyze locally specific water-related limitations and to put forward strategies and recommendations for addressing them. Doing so will ensure that local water resources and infrastructure can adequately support local plans for growth and development. The latest WRE guidance​ provides best practices regarding analyses and approaches for: ensuring receiving waters are protected as the local land use plan is developed and implemented, reflecting changes to the Maryland Department of the Environment’s (MDE) water resources programs over the past decade; and integrating climate change considerations, particularly flooding risks, into the drinking water, wastewater and stormwater assessments of the WRE.

Septics Law​

Septic systems facilitate development outside Priority Funding Areas (PFAs) because they are typically associated with large-lot residential development far from established communities. Homes on septic tanks add a disproportionate amount of nitrogen, adding to the burden of restoring Maryland’s streams, rivers and estuaries. The Sustainable Growth and Agricultural Preservation Act of 2012 limits residential development on septic systems in Maryland. Planning assists local governments in developing tier maps and implementing the Septics Law.​



Stormwater carries pollutants from the built environment to rivers and streams and can intensify flooding in developed areas. Mary​land’s Stormwater Management Act of 2007 requires Environmental Site Design (ESD) to be used to the “maximum extent practicable” to manage stormwater associated with new development and redevelopment. Planning is conducting research and outreach to show how infill and redevelopment can be achieved while implementing ESD requirements.

Bay Restoration Fund

Maryland’s Bay Restoration Fund (BRF) pays for wastewater treatment system upgrades across the state. Planning serves on the Bay Restoration Advisory Committee and works with local governments to ensure they have adequate wastewater capacity within the PFA to accommodate projected growth and development. Planning also has a statutory responsibility to analyze the growth impacts of BRF activities within the service areas of the Enhanced Nutrient Removal wastewater treatment plants. By looking at permits and other development activities, Planning can determine if wastewater treatment upgrades are helping accommodate growth within PFAs.

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