Maryland Consortium Outlines Steps for Clean Water

As the state of Maryland considers how to reduce stormwater pollution from roads, lawns, and parking lots, the Maryland Stormwater Consortium outlined three critical steps the state must take to protect clean water.

Stormwater is a leading cause of water pollution and a significant source of nutrient contamination to the Chesapeake Bay. Poorly planned construction and development cause harmful sediment, toxics, and metals to run off into local rivers and streams, threatening clean water and the health of fish, wildlife, and people.

The Maryland Department of the Environment is considering fiinal regulations to implement Environmental Site Design (ESD) for reducing polluted stormwater runoff in Maryland. ESD uses cost-effective practices that work with nature, such as rain gardens and permeable pavement, to retain stormwater, preventing pollution of nearby streams and rivers, reducing flooding, and beautifying neighborhoods.

The consortium, of which American Rivers is a member, recommends: 

  • New development must require reduction of enough runoff from a site to protect nearby streams during a 2.5-inch rainfall. This would provide a higher level of protection for local streams by treating more rainfall onsite, where it can soak into the soil naturally or be released more slowly.
  • Redevelopment sites must be required to reduce stormwater runoff using ESD practices so that a full 1-inch of rain is treated onsite.
  • Regulations also must apply to sites after development is completed by requiring that 100 percent of average annual pre-development recharge volume is treated onsite. Pre-development recharge volume is the amount of water naturally recharged into groundwater by soaking into the soil.

Katherine Baer, senior director for clean water of American Rivers, said, “We must plan wisely so that we can have clean water and economic growth. By implementing stronger safeguards for stormwater, Maryland will create a future where business, clean water, and quality of life thrive together.

“Maryland leaders should be applauded for passing the Maryland Stormwater Act of 2007 that requires all new development and redevelopment to incorporate certain stormwater safeguards. But our work isn’t done yet. Now the state must fully implement the law by strengthening clean water protections,” she said.