New! Draft 2022 Proposed Water Resources Element Guidance is Now Available

Planning in Progress

by Jason Dubow, Manager, Resource Conservation and Management, Matthew Rowe, Assistant Director, Water and Science Administration, with Kristen E. Humphrey, MLA, Local Assistance and Training Planner 

Figure 1 – Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

The Water Resources Element (WRE) is required for local comprehensive plans in Maryland, as laid out in HB 1141 (2006). The WRE is designed to ensure that local plans for growth and development can be supported, given the limitations of local water resources, as well as the constraints of local water, sewer, and stormwater infrastructure.

In 2020, the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE), the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Maryland Department of Planning (Planning) convened a team to recommend updates to the original 2007 WRE Guidelines.

After identifying needed changes and developing a preliminary draft of the updated guidelines in fall 2021, several county and municipal planning agencies were asked to review and provide feedback on the draft changes. Their comments recommended more clarity regarding state expectations and the extent and availability of state assistance. The agencies revised the draft update to reflect that input. 

MDE and Planning have jointly published a new web-based guide, the 2022 Proposed WRE Guidance Update, to provide local planners with information about best practices for conducting analyses and approaches for:

  • Ensuring Maryland’s waters are protected as the local land use plan is developed and implemented, reflecting changes to 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. 

In addition to integrating climate change considerations throughout the WRE development process, the 2022 Proposed WRE Guidance Update includes changes replacing the nonpoint source loading analysis of the stormwater assessment portion of the 2007 guidelines. The detailed drinking water assessment and wastewater assessment portions of the 2007 WRE guidelines will remain intact and should still be followed.  

During 2022, MDE and Planning staff will meet with local governments for small group training sessions and to identify, discuss and implement improvements to the draft 2022 Proposed WRE Guidance Update, with the goal of finalizing the update by the end of the year. 

For more information about the WRE, proposed changes to the guidance and/or upcoming training sessions, please contact Jason Dubow, Manager, Resource Conservation and Management, at jason.dubow@maryland.gov or (410) 767-3370, or Matthew Rowe, Assistant Director, Water and Science Administration, at matthew.rowe@maryland.gov or (410) 537-3578.

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