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Maryland State Government Maryland Department of the Environment

Looking for information on the “2011 Maryland Standards and Specifications for Soil Erosion and Sediment Control” and new regulatory changes?  Click here for details.

Erosion and Sediment Control in Maryland

Raindrop splashing into groundThe effects of erosion and sedimentation are well known. Typically, when the earth’s surface is exposed to the impacts of rainfall, there is an increase in the volume and velocity of runoff. This sets off a chain reaction that results in the transport and deposition of sediment, reduced stream capacity, and ultimately increased stream scour and flooding. Additionally, suspended sediment contributes to a decline in water quality by blocking sunlight, reducing photosynthesis, decreasing plant growth, destroying bottom dwelling species’ habitat, carrying attached pollutants such as phosphorous, and so on. The list of negative impacts is long.

Sediment plume in local creekLegislation, established to protect Maryland waters from various pollutants, has existed since the early 1930s. However, it wasn’t until 1961 that Maryland’s Attorney General determined sediment to be a pollutant. This determination was based upon an interpretation of a 1957 State statute and authorized sediment control regulations to be developed. A statewide sediment control program was mandated in 1970 when the General Assembly passed the Sediment Control Law. From an historical perspective, Maryland’s incentive for having an erosion and sediment control program is the Chesapeake Bay. From a practical standpoint, federal involvement via the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) provides an incentive for State and local program development. Having an existing program has made compliance with NPDES requirements easier. The Chesapeake Bay initiatives in 1983, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 319 Nonpoint Source Program, and the NPDES municipal stormwater program have stimulated additional emphasis.

Picture of a Sediment TrapThe program developed in 1970 is essentially the same that exists today with an approved plan being required for any earth disturbance of 5,000 square feet or more and 100 cubic yards or more; plan approval exemptions for agricultural uses; plan review and approval by local Soil Conservation Districts (SCD); grading ordinance adoption and project inspection by local jurisdictions; utility construction inspection by the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC); and criminal penalties for sediment pollution. Various programmatic improvements have included requiring sediment control plan approval prior to issuing grading and building permits (1973); requiring training and certification of "responsible personnel" (1980); shifting enforcement authority from local to State control and establishing delegation criteria (1984); requiring NPDES stormwater discharge permits for construction activity (1991); subjecting agricultural land management practices to enforcement action for sediment pollution (1992); and establishing a maximum grading unit of 20 acres (2011).

Maryland’s Erosion Control Law and regulations specify the general provisions for program implementation; procedures for delegation of enforcement authority; requirements for erosion and sediment control ordinances; exemptions from plan approval requirements; requirements for training and certification programs; criteria for plan submittal, review, and approval; procedures for inspection and enforcement; and applicant responsibilities. Clearly defining minimum standards is essential to make erosion and sediment control work. MDE has established minimum criteria for effective erosion and sediment control practices. The 2011 Standards and Specifications for Soil Erosion and Sediment Control are incorporated by reference into State regulations and serve as the official guide for erosion and sediment control principles, methods, and practices.

The 2011 Standards and Specifications are available here:

2011 Standards and Specifications for Soil Erosion and Sediment Control

Details from the 2011 Standards and Specifications are available online here:

Details from the 2011 Standards and Specifications 

Picture of improperly placed straw balesContractors and other construction industry personnel knowledgeable about erosion and sediment control principles, implementation and maintenance techniques, and specifications associated with various best management practices are an essential component of Maryland’s statewide sediment control program. Well-trained construction personnel help to ensure that quality implementation and maintenance occur. Since 1980, many construction industry personnel have attended the Maryland Department of the Environment’s (MDE) "Responsible Personnel Training for Erosion and Sediment Control" program.

Contact Info:

For additional information regarding the training program or other aspects of Maryland’s erosion and sediment control program please contact the Sediment, Stormwater & Dam Safety Program at (410) 537-3543.

To Report Sediment Control Problems...

In the following counties and municipalities, please call:

Anne Arundel County   (410) 222-7777
     Annapolis (410) 263-7946
Baltimore City   (410) 396-4190
Baltimore County   (410) 887-3226
Calvert County   (410) 535-9235
Carroll County   (410) 386-2210
Cecil County   (410) 996-5235
Charles County   (301) 645-0700
Dorchester County   (410) 228-2920
Frederick County   (301) 600-3507
Harford County   (410) 879-2000
     Bel Air   (410) 879-9507
     Aberdeen   (410) 272-1600
Howard County   (410) 313-1855
Kent County   (410) 778-7467
Montgomery County   (240) 777-0311
     Gaithersburg   (301) 258-6330
     Rockville   (240) 314-8870
Prince George's County   (301) 883-5600
     Bowie   (204) 508-5271
     Greenbelt   (301) 474-8004
     Laurel   (301) 725-5300
WSSC   (301) 206-8072
Worcester County   (410) 632-1200

For all other locations in Maryland call the Maryland Department of the Environment:

Week Days               (410) 537-3510
Nights/Weekends   1-866-633-4686