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Maryland State Government Maryland Department of the Environment

Water Programs

The Department of the Environment (MDE) implements a diversity of regulatory and planning programs to reduce the input of pollutants to surface and ground waters of the State. Reduction of nutrients from both point- and non-point sources is the focus of the permit requirements, along with control of bacterial pollution from sewage treatment plants and toxic materials from any source.

Bay Restoration Fund
The Bay Restoration Fund is a dedicated fund, financed by wastewater treatment plant users, that is used to upgrade Maryland’s wastewater treatment plants with enhanced nutrient removal (ENR) technology so they are capable of achieving wastewater effluent quality of 3 mg/l total nitrogen and 0.3 mg/l total phosphorus.  In addition, a similar fee paid by septic system users is utilized to upgrade onsite systems and implement cover crops to reduce nitrogen loading to the Bay.  

Water Quality Financing 
The mission of the Water Quality Financing Administration (WQFA) is to assist in the financing of capital infrastructure costs for wastewater and drinking water projects. 

§319(h) Non Point Source
This program administers the State’s §319(h) Grant Program. MDE plays a lead role in helping to achieve protection and improvement of Maryland’s water quality by promoting and funding state and local efforts, water quality monitoring, stream and wetland restoration, education and outreach, and other measures to reduce and track nonpoint source pollution loads.

Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) are a requirement, found in §303(d), of the federal Clean Water Act that became law in 1972.  TMDLs are a tool for implementing State water quality standards.  They are based on the relationship between pollution sources and in-stream water quality standards

Fish and Shellfish 
MDE’s Fish and Shellfish programs monitor the quality of shellfish harvesting waters, and testing edible fish tissue to certify that fish are safe for human consumption.  Certain fish in contaminated waters can accumulate high enough levels of toxic substances.  When consumed frequently over a lifetime these may increase the consumers’ risk of adverse health effects.  In these cases, MDE issues fish consumption advisories to limit consumption of certain fish species.  MDE also works with the county health departments to monitor water quality in Maryland beaches

Environmental Boards
The Environmental Boards are comprised of four State licensing boards, established by the General Assembly. Also located within the Water Management Administration, the Boards were created to license and certify individuals as environmental sanitarians; superintendents and operators of waterworks, wastewater works, industrial wastewater works, wastewater collection systems and waste water distribution systems; well drillers, water conditioner and water pump installers; and marine contractors.  

MDE staff are always on call during the regular workweek and on weekends, holidays and after normal working hours, to ensure that all environmental emergencies are promptly addressed.  You may report any environmental emergency that poses an immediate threat to the public health or the well-being of the environment such as oil and chemical spills or accidents causing releases of pollutants by calling toll free (866) 633-4686.    


Water Management Permits
MDE’s Water Management Administration (WMA) issues permits to protect Maryland’s water resources by controlling industrial and municipal wastewater discharges.  Surface water discharges are regulated through combined State and federal permits under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES).  Groundwater discharges are regulated through State issued groundwater permits.  Also related to the protection of groundwater is the coordination will all local health departments for the regulation of individual wells and septic systems.

Water Supply
MDE’s Water Supply Program implements various programs to ensure that public drinking water systems provide safe and adequate water to all present and future users in Maryland, and that appropriate usage, planning and conservation policies are implemented for Maryland’s water resources.  This mission is accomplished through proper planning for water withdrawal, protection of water sources that are used for public water supplies, oversight and enforcement of water quality monitoring at public water systems, regular onsite inspections of water systems, and prompt response to water supply emergencies.  

Wetlands and Waterways
MDE's Wetlands and Waterways Program is responsible for the protection and management of Maryland’s tidal and nontidal wetlands and waters.  The Nontidal Wetlands and Waterways Division regulates activities conducted in nontidal wetlands and their buffers, and nontidal waterways, including the 110-year floodplain.  The Tidal Wetlands Division regulates activities conducted in tidal wetlands.  In addition to its regulatory responsibilities, the Program also creates, restores, and enhances nontidal wetlands and streams, provides training and technical assistance and assists in the development of watershed management plans. 

Sediment, Stormwater and Dam Safety
The Sediment, Stormwater and Dam Safety Program concentrates on controlling runoff increases and mitigating water quality degradation associated with new development.  This section provides guidance on how to prevent sediment and stormwater runoff, or “nonpoint source” pollution.  It also provides an overview of Maryland’s dam safety program, which assures that all dams in Maryland are designed, constructed, operated, and maintained safely to prevent dam failures and the consequences of failures.  


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