Wetlands and Waterways Program

Wetlands provide important socio-economic benefits and ecosystem services such as storing and conveying flood waters, recharging groundwater, improving water quality by filtering and storing nutrients, and providing shoreline protection and critical habitat for a multitude of plant and animal species. The Maryland Department of the Environment’s Wetlands and Waterways Program protects Maryland wetlands and waterways from loss and degradation. This protection is achieved through the regulation of the draining, dredging and filling of tidal and nontidal wetlands, the nontidal wetland buffer and waterways, including the nontidal​ 100-year floodplain through a permitting or authorization process implemented in close coordination with the federal government (specifically, the Army Corps of Engineers).

While there are ​some exemptions from permitting requirements for certain activities, permits or letters of authorization from the State are generally required if a property owner plans to undertake an activity that results in the draining of a wetland or the addition of fill materials to a State regulated wetland or waterway. Examples of activities which require permits from the Wetlands and Waterways Program include building a new pier, adding a platform or boat lift to an existing pier, dredging a boat slip, putting in a bulkhead, filling in a nontidal wetland or buffer for the construction of a structure such as a shed or the expansion or creation of a patio or driveway, and, creating a stream crossing or putting a utility pipeline under a stream.

The Wetlands and Waterways Program also provides Maryland-regulated floodplain and FEMA Floodplain information to the public. With climate change increasing precipitation, sea level rise and flooding in Maryland, protecting and restoring wetlands, waterways, and their buffers will be critical to securing a resilient future for Maryland’s citizens and ecosystems. To learn more about MDE’s Water and Science Administration’s detailed climate adaptation goals and strategies please visit the WSA Climate Change site​​.

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