BALTIMORE, MD (April 13, 2006) – The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) and the Maryland Department of Planning (MDP) today released a new report on key findings from a series of workshops held in 2005. The report concluded that the most important component to balancing land use and environmental decisions is to give priority to the availability of water and sewer capacity in each community.
In an important step toward advancing the dialogue between the agencies and Maryland’s local communities, MDP and MDE jointly held four facilitated regional workshops entitled Challenges of a Growing Maryland: Balancing Land Use and Environmental Decisions. The workshops focused on local issues related to community growth, environmental restoration and/or regulations, particularly in the areas of water quality and quantity. They were an outgrowth of presentations made in the summer of 2005 to several groups, including the Maryland Municipal League, Maryland Association of Counties, and Maryland Economic Development Association.
“I am proud of the leadership and vision shown by Environment Secretary Philbrick and Planning Secretary Scott in developing and conducting these important workshops,” said Governor Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr. “Opening the dialogue between State and local officials has been a hallmark of my administration. We will continue to work hard to help local communities find solutions to growth and environmental problems.”
“These workshops have stressed that the key to planning and developing land is an open dialogue between government agencies and local communities,” said MDE Secretary Kendl P. Philbrick. “We’re happy to have facilitated these workshops which included a full range of participants who are integral to Maryland’s growth and development process.”
The workshop participants included local governments (elected officials, planning staff, local economic development officers, and health officials), State agencies, Tributary Strategy Teams, developers, and non-profit environmental organizations.
“Increased dialogue with local officials and other stakeholders yielded a number of recommendations which are contained in the report. Interest in the workshops was strong,” said MDP Secretary Audrey Scott. “I am pleased the Ehrlich Administration already is implementing activities to address these findings.”
Some of the key recommendations from the report include the following:
Strengthen the local comprehensive planning process
Integrate Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) and Tributary Strategy Plans into local Comprehensive and Water and Sewer Plans.
Maintain and strengthen regional MDP field offices particularly where staff can assist smaller jurisdictions
Provide training to newly elected officials regarding the importance of planning and to the private sector for the design and implementation of new stormwater management regulations.
Facilitate inter-jurisdictional agreements and encourage regional incentives for wastewater treatment and water supply planning and stormwater management.
Complete an assessment of the State’s water resources by completing demand/supply studies for each significant watershed or aquifer.
Provide guidance to jurisdictions, which are considering enacting Adequate Public Facilities Ordinances (APFO) to control growth.
MDE and MDP launched several projects and activities to address issues raised by workshop participants:
Building upon outreach to local officials, MDE and MDP will participate again in 2006 in training sessions at the annual summer conferences of the Maryland Municipal League and the Maryland Association of Counties.
To assist local officials, MDP is conducting local community planning visits to all 23 counties in the State and Baltimore City in 2006 to raise awareness about the benefits of planned growth, to help prevent uncontrolled growth and to offer planning assistance.
MDE provides technical assistance to integrate nutrient TMDLs into the local land use planning process. This includes non-point source reduction analyses and development of watershed plans that meet the federal minimum grant funding requirements.
MDE is investing funds into a GIS-based nutrient load analysis tool to enable systematic land use planning to focus on the drinking water availability and suitable wastewater discharge options, whether land application or surface water discharge.
MDE adopted regulations that describe the process for implementing Maryland’s antidegradation requirements.
MDP and MDE both strongly encourage early public participation into the planning process.
MDE’s draft water capacity and wastewater capacity guidance documents are on the agency’s website.
MDE continues to meet monthly with County Environmental Health Directors.
MDP is writing a Models and Guidelines publication regarding Adequate Public Facilities Ordinances (APFOs) to aid local jurisdictions that are considering adopting this planning tool.
In coordination with local governments, MDE developed “Maryland’s Interim TMDL Implementation Guidance for Local Governments.” The final guidance will be released in May 2006. MDE also supported legislation addressing TMDLs and water quality.
To help strengthen planning assistance to local government, MDP recently expanded its staff in its Eastern Shore field office.
Maryland’s Advisory Committee on the Management and Protection of the State’s Water Resources is looking at long-term water supply planning and encouraging regional approaches.
For a copy of the final report and for more information on balancing land use with local planning, for sewer and water availability, go to: mde.maryland.gov/assets/document/Final_Report_MDE_MDP.pdf or www.mdp.state.md.us.
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