State Water Reuse Laws, Regulations and Guidelines


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Introduction: Laws, Regulations and Guidelines

Maryland's primary law addressing water reuse, Environment Article 9-303.1, directs the Department of Environment to encourage the reuse of reclaimed wastewater effluent and identifies set-backs. Maryland's primary regulation on water reuse, COMAR (Groundwater Quality Standards), incorporate guidelines on land application by reference. State and local plumbing codes are also part of the governance framework of water reuse.


Maryland Statute on Water Reuse

Maryland Environment Article 9-303.1 is a brief law that has three parts. Part A directs the Maryland Department of Environment to "encourage the use of reclaimed water as an alternative to discharging wastewater effluent into the surface waters of the State" as a pollution control measure. Part B lists a number of irrigation uses for reclaimed water, as well as, "Any other use that the Department considers appropriate."Part C identifies buffer and setback requirements from water supply sources, streams, schools, roads and property boundaries.


Maryland Regulation on Water Reuse

The Code of Maryland Regulations, COMAR, applicable to water reuse is part of the Ground Water Quality Standards. Part A covers required approval of discharges, including permit exemptions for small food processing activities, which helps promote value-added on-farm products. Part B classifies three types of groundwater aquifers based on transmissivity, permeability and total dissolved solids quality. The intent is to distinguish high quality aquifers and ensure their protection. Part C defines three categories of effluent water quality relative to the three types of groundwater aquifers. Part D provides guidelines for discharges to ground waters, and incorporates MDE's "Guidelines for Land Application/Reuse of Treated Municipal Wastewaters" MDE-WMA-001-04/10, by reference


What are MDE's Water Reuse Guidelines?

MDE's guidelines address the reuse of treated municipal wastewater effluent. The guidelines recognize four categories of reclaimed effluent defined by water quality (degree of treatment). The higher the class, the higher the higher the quality (higher degree of treatment). Higher quality treated effluent (higher class) has fewer restrictions on the reuse, particularly the potential for human contact.

MDE has two guideline documents. The first is for Class 1 - 3 reclaimed water and is entitled Guidelines for Land Application / Reuse of Treated Municipal Wastewaters.

The second is for the use of highly treated Class IV reclaimed water generated from centralized wastewater treatment works, and are entitled Guidelines for Use of Class IV Reclaimed Water High Potential for Human Contact.

Maryland's Water Reuse Guidelines


Plumbing Codes

Certain technical details affecting water reuse are found in State plumbing code, COMAR 09.20.01*. For local plumbing codes, which may be more strict than the State code, contact the Maryland Board of Plumbing.

Although technical plumping practices relating to water reuse are found throughout the plumbing code, Appendix G, Green Plumbing, of the National Code, covers topics like water conservation, landscape irrigation, gray water systems, Reclaimed water systems, on-site treated non-potable water systems, non-potable and potable rainwater catchment systems.

* Authority §§12-205 and 12-207 Annotated Code of Maryland, Business Occupations and Professions Article


Next Up: EPA Water Reuse Publications

From a federal perspective, water reuse involves drinking water, governed by the Safe Drinking Water Act, and clean natural waters, governed by the Clean Water Act. Because US Environmental Protection Agency administers both of these laws, it has an important role in guiding water reuse.

Learn more about EPA Water Reuse Guidance. (Next Page)


Contact Information

Please direct questions or comments to Jim George.​​

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