Managing drought is a responsibility shared by numerous organizations and agencies at all levels. In Maryland, the Department of the Environment has primary responsibility for tracking drought conditions, and coordinating all drought responses.



  • Office of the Governor
    • May declare drought emergency and issue Executive Order directing response measures
  • Department of Agriculture
    • Provide assistance to farmers suffering from drought
  • Department of the Environment
    • Lead and coordinate all drought management activities
    • Provide guidance to local drought coordinators
    • Monitor drought indicators, and advises Governor on status of drought conditions when necessary
    • Update local government, utilities, industry and the public of the status of drought conditions
    • Coordinate drought response actions with local governments and utilities
    • Develop public education and outreach materials for the public
    • Maintain drought information on its website
    • Establish and maintain Drought Hotline when necessary
    • Year-round oversight of community and nontransient noncommunity water systems
  • Department of General Services
    • Responsible for operation and maintenance of State facilities
  • Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
    • Assess and respond to any impacts of water shortages on public health
  • Department of Natural Resources
    • Monitor forest fire conditions
    • Establish burning restrictions
    • Enforce burning restrictions
  • Maryland Emergency Management Administration
    • Coordinate State response to major disasters and emergencies
  • State Police
    • Enforce mandatory water use restrictions


  • County Executives and County Councils
    • May declare county emergencies
    • Appoint drought coordinators
  • Drough​t Coordinators​ - The county executives or county commissions will appoint a drought coordinator for each county to coordinate with MDE regarding drought assessment and response, and to handle applications for exemptions or variances to the Mandatory Drought Restrictions. In counties served by the WSSC or Baltimore City water supplies, the county drought coordinator will handle applications only for those areas of the county not served by those systems. WSSC and Baltimore City will each appoint their own drought coordinators for handling variance and exemption requests within their service areas. During times of drought emergency, drought coordinators may be removed from that designation at any time by the Secretary of the Department of the Environment, and replaced by a Drought Coordinators of the Secretary’s choice who may serve for the duration of the emergency.
    • Maintain communications and coordinate with MDE throughout the drought emergency
    • Render decisions regarding applications received for exemptions or variances to mandatory restrictions and nonessential water uses when a drought emergency has been declared
    • Establish local drought emergency public information and education programs
  • Local Environmental Health Agencies
    • Provide year-round oversight of transient noncommunity water systems including assistance with drought-related problems.
    • Assess and respond to impacts of water shortages on public health.
      Issue well construction permits.
    • Assist owners of residential wells with drought-related problems.
    • Provide public education related to drought, well failures and public health issues.
  • Local Law Enforcement Agencies
    • Enforce mandatory drought restrictions
  • Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments - COG is a regional organization of 17 Washington area local governments surrounding our nation's capital, plus area members of the Maryland and Virginia legislatures, the U.S. Senate, and the U.S. House of Representatives. COG provides a focus for action and develops sound regional responses to environmental and other area issues.
    • Develop and implement a year-round communications program focusing on water conservation
    • Coordinate drought awareness and response for public utilities in the Washington area.

Water Supply Utilities

Each community water supplier is responsible for monitoring water supply conditions in their service areas, responding to customer complaints and problems related to drought conditions, and reporting any drought-related problems to MDE. Water suppliers may impose water use restrictions on their customers based on their individual situations when conditions warrant.

Interstate Commissions

  • Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC) coordinates water resources efforts of Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania and the federal government and provides the mechanism to guide the conservation, development, and administration of the water resources of the vast river basin.
  • Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin (ICPRB) works to enhance, protect and conserve the water and associated land resources of the Potomac River basin and its tributaries through regional and interstate cooperation.
    • Coordinate water supply operations during times of drought
    • Ensure that minimum environmental flow-by requirements are met during times of drought

Related Topics

For More Information

For more information, contact the Water Supply Program at 410-537-3702 or


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