Climate Accomplishments and Initiatives

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Water and Science Administration

Legislation & Regulations

  • 2017 legislation making emergency action plans (EAPs) mandatory for dams
  • 2020 legislation strengthening MDE’s authority to require the repair or removal of unsafe dams.
  • Cool water designated use criteria, under development, will increase the geographic area of Maryland with enhanced protection of riparian zones that contribute to climate change resilience.
  • Graywater reuse regulations are under development and can, in the long run, increase water supply resilience, and reduce the impact of drought.​
  • November 2021 Advancing Stormwater Resiliency in Maryland (A-StoRM) report to the General Assembly describes a holistic approach to modernizing MD’s stormwater regulations and better manage both water quality and water quantity, including consideration of new rainfall estimates and forward-looking estimates from climate predictions.

Permits & Approvals

  • Incentivising flood insurance for structures in floodplains with stormwater permits.
  • A more resilient future by changing building siting and elevating structures in flood prone areas.
  • Stormwater permits recognize and respond to the connection between pollution and flooding.
  • Stormwater permits incentivize increased green infrastructure like forests and meadows for resilient communities to combat pollution and flooding.
  • Stormwater permits require increased maintenance of drains and culverts to prevent flooding.
  • Stormwater permits have incentives to capture rain and prevent pollution and flooding.
  • Water and Sewer Plan Amendment approvals screen for and raise awareness of flooding vulnerabilities associated with water and sewer projects.
  • Pollution prevention permits enhance emergency preparedness for flooding discharges.
  • Pollution prevention permits better protect shellfish waters from pollution.
  • Pollution prevention permits make sure that infrastructure can handle higher water flows that result from intense precipitation.
  • Waterway construction projects must consider increased flood risks and flood vulnerable areas.
  • Waterway construction projects must use larger storms to determine and respond to flood impacts.
  • The Deep Creek Lake dam operation appropriations permit (Brookfield) uses more current data to ensure dam releases protect coldwater fisheries from the warming effects of climate change and accounts for more average annual rainfall.

Policies & Operating Procedures​

Plans & Guidance​

  • June 2020 Emergency Procedures Guidance Document for work in Nontidal Wetlands and Waterways including the 100-Year Floodplain.
  • Maryland’s 2019 Chesapeake Bay Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP) includes a climate change strategy section.
  • 2021 Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP) enhancements underway are identifying additional nutrient reduction strategies to offset future increases due to climate change.
  • Maryland’s Ocean Acidification Action Plan developed in collaboration with the Department of Natural Resources and University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (2020).
  • Updating the Water Resources Element to factor in climate resiliency.  In coordination with the  Department of Planning providing updated guidance to integrate climate considerations into local land use planning for protecting water resources.  Currently a select group of local governments are reviewing and commenting on the draft guidance, expected to be available on the Web before the end of the year.
  • Implementing enhanced protections and avoidance/minimization of riparian buffers during stream restoration projects.
  • Revised Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) implementation guidance for local jurisdictions.  These guidance documents provide recommendations to local jurisdictions regarding how to incorporate climate resiliency in their restoration planning efforts for specific pollutants.
  • Guidance on climate adaptation for drinking water utilities addressing water availability and water quality.
  • The Department’s Innovative Reuse and Beneficial Use of Dredged Material Guidance Document supports projects, like wetland enhancement, island restoration, "thin layer placement", which build resilience to storm surge and sea level rise.
  • MDE Water and Science Administration co-chaired the development of the Water Resources section of Maryland’s Climate Adaptation Framework, under the auspices of the Maryland Climate Change Commission’s Adaptation and Resiliency Work Group (ongoing).
  • MDE Water and Science Administration is contributing a Climate Adaptation section to MDE’s Annual Agency Climate Change Report required by Env. Art. Section 2-1305.​

Programming & Staffing​

  • MDE partners with other State agencies to implement climate policy and provide local governments with needed funding and expert guidance.
  • Maryland’s water reuse initiatives reduce pollution and build resilience to drought.
  • Maryland’s water reuse initiatives reduce pollution and combat ocean acidification.
  • Maryland’s water reuse initiatives reduce pollution and harmful algal blooms.
  • MDE’s Model Local Floodplain Management Ordinance now includes a 2-foot freeboard above the base 100-year flood elevation.
  • In September 2021, consolidated Water and Science Administration’s National Flood Insurance Program coordinators into the Stormwater, Dam Safety and Flood Management Program to align flood protection efforts with related stormwater, climate resilience and adaptation initiatives. 

Climate Resiliency​

  • In July 2020 and consistent with Environment Article §2–1301 through 1306, WSA issued its Climate Integration Policy and Guidance that directs all WSA staff to review its planning, regulatory, and fiscal programs to include consideration of sea level rise, storm surges and flooding, increased precipitation and temperature, and extreme weather events.  This policy is also communicated regularly to newly hired staff.
  • The Water and Science Administration formed a matrix team in Sept. 2020 to help programs by providing staff resources to implement the Administration’s climate policy.
  • The Water and Science Administration’s 2020-2023 Strategic Plan Climate Resiliency, finalized in 2019, has Climate Resiliency as one of the primary goals to adapt Water and Science Administration programs and decision making to factor in changing conditions and preparedness.

Monitoring​

  • Ocean Acidification monitoring instrumentation for a key parameter, partial pressure of CO2 (pCO2), is being made available to MDE as part of a partnership with NASA to groundtruth new remote sensing technology.
  • The remote sensing technology, if successful, could enable more efficient and rapid detection of hazardous algal blooms.

Funding​​

  • Sponsored a bill passed to restore funding to the Comprehensive Flood Grant Management Program.  The Program has managed nearly $35 million in funding authorized since 2019 (as of spring 2021).
  • Helping fund an update to Maryland’s Probable Maximum Precipitation estimates for designing dams.
  • Financing the Bay Restoration Fund Wastewater Program - that prioritizes climate resiliency and flooding.
  • Water Quality Revolving Loan Fund has a new  Nonpoint Source Pollution Prevention Public and Private Entities program includes the Maryland Forest Financing Implementation Tool​ ​(MD FFIT), a calculator designed to assist MD local governments, counties, and their partners seeking loans to fund forestry efforts and earn restoration credits for permits.​ 

Communications​​

  • Launched the Water and Science Administration’s Climate Adaptation Web Page, that includes information on Water and Science Administration’s top climate goals and strategies.
  • MDE Water and Science Administration regularly presents on the topic of Ocean/Coastal Acidification at workshops hosted by Mid-Atlantic Coastal Acidification Network (MACAN), and the International Alliance to Combat Ocean Acidification.
  • MDE Water and Science Administration regularly engages the Climate Commission Science and Technology Workgroup and the Education, Communications and Outreach workgroup on the topic of Ocean/Coastal Acidification.
  • MDE Water and Science Administration and Office of Communications participated in developing and carrying out Maryland’s 2021 Flood Awareness Month campaign​.

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