Watershed Restoration

All of the activities that occur on the landscape impact the quantity and quality of the water within the local streams. Many environmental regulations have been created to offset these effects as the land is developed, including stormwater management and erosion and sediment control. Stormwater management regulations were first adopted in Maryland in 1984 to manage the additional quantity of water created as forests or pastures are converted to pavement, rooftops, sidewalks and driveways. It wasn’t until 2000 that stormwater management regulations required management of the quality of the water that could include pollutants generated from developed sites such as heavy metals, bacteria, sediments and nutrients.

Significant development occurred prior to the adoption of stormwater management. To address some of those legacy issues, Congress passed amendments to the Clean Water Act in 1987. These amendments created a permit for local jurisdictions that regulate the quality of water discharged by the stormdrain system. This permit is called a municipal National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Permit (NPDES) or also called MS4 (municipal separate storm sewer system) permit.

In 1992, Harford County received its first MS4 permit. Each permit is valid for five years, and then renewed, with modifications. The permit requires the county to implement programs to improve the quality of water entering into local stream and rivers. Some of the required programs include identification of water quality impairments through watershed assessments, restoration of water quality impairments, public outreach, water quality monitoring, and identification of illegal discharges to the stormdrain system. The MS4 permit also requires that Harford County coordinate with Maryland state agencies in developing watershed restoration to implement the TMDL program and the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Implementation Plan.

Watershed Regulation Resources