In the past decade, water quality and quantity issues have had a tremendous influence on growth and development issues. In the early part of the decade, many private wells and public water supplies were impacted due to drought conditions. These conditions brought about many changes to State policies and local development activity.

Three of Carroll County's municipalities - Mount Airy, Westminster, and Taneytown - were forced to enter into consent agreements with the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) to develop additional water supplies. Most of the county's public water supply systems have faced challenges of some sort conforming to State policies related to water quantity, which results in challenges to achieving Smart Growth.

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Legislative Requirement

Legislation (HB 1141) passed by the 2006 Maryland General Assembly resulted in several significant changes to land use regulations controlled by Article 66B of the Annotated Code of the State of Maryland. New watershed-based planning requirements are among the more significant changes. A Water Resources Element (WRE) must be developed and adopted by all local governments on or before October 1, 2009. The County and its eight municipalities were granted by Maryland Department of Planning a six-month extension to April 1, 2010, to adopt the plan element.

This WRE must identify drinking water and other water resources needed for existing and future growth. It also must identify suitable receiving waters (where stormwater and treated wastewater can be discharged) and land areas for stormwater management and wastewater treatment. The WRE must address pollutant reductions, where needed, from both existing development and future growth. This legislation comes at a time when water quality and quantity planning is of utmost importance.

Adopted Plan Document

Through a collaborative effort between Carroll County and its municipalities, a joint WRE plan document was developed, using the Water Resources Coordination Council (WRCC) as the forum for collaboration. This same document was then adopted by all of the participating jurisdictions. The jurisdictions that participated in adoption of the joint WRE plan document are Carroll County, Hampstead, Manchester, Mount Airy, New Windsor, Sykesville, Union Bridge, and Westminster. To review or download PDFs of all or part of the document, please see the links below. The complete document is available to download as one file, or you may click on the links to individual sections of the document. Because the document is rich in graphics and maps, some of the files are large.

To review or download the complete document, click here: 

      Complete WRE Plan Document (49.0 MB)

Carroll County and its municipalities worked collaboratively to develop one unified WRE document that could be adopted by all of Carroll County's jurisdictions to satisfy the requirements of HB 1141. The forum for collaboration on this effort was the Water Resources Coordination Council (WRCC). The WRCC includes County staff, representatives of each Carroll County municipality, and the Carroll County Health Department. Meetings are advertised and open to the public.

Since this process involved substantial technical information, a WRE Guidance Team was formed to discuss issues as they arise. This team included representatives of County staff, each municipality, and the three relevant State agencies (MDE, MDP, and DNR). A WRE Work Group (consisting of the County and municipal representatives from the WRCC) met periodically to work through issues related to data collection and technical background assessments.

The WRE Work Group followed the Models and Guidelines (No. 26) developed jointly between MDE and MDP and additional guidance provided by the State agencies for the development of this plan element.

The Group collected data on the current capacity of each water and wastewater system. This information helped identify additional capacity needs based on current (as of Dec 2007) and planned future demand/growth (based on adopted plans as of Dec 2007 - no information was based on proposals). Where limitations identified cannot be overcome, reductions in future demand will need to be considered.

The County hired a consultant, Malcolm Pirnie, to provide technical assistance with several of the background assessments needed to form decisions and develop strategies to be included in a plan element. The consultant provided a number of assessments/evaluations.

The nonpoint source ("NPS" includes stormwater and septics) component of this plan was conducted by County staff. MDP and MDE provided a loading analysis model from which the results should be acceptable to the State. Recommended strategies need to address the NPS contribution to or impact on impaired waters (303d), Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs), Tier II waters (high quality), and Tributary Strategies/Chesapeake Bay TMDL, among other things.

The County participated in the Center for Watershed Protection's Builders for the Bay Better Site Design Standards assessment and consensus document. This project provided the stormwater programmatic assessment required in the WRE guidance document. The consensus document primarily provides recommendations for addressing impervious surfaces and reducing runoff. Many of the recommendations have already been implemented. Others are incorporated into the draft WRE.

Upon completion of these assessments, County staff worked with the municipalities/WRCC members to draft the actual WRE plan document.

Under State law, a local jurisdiction must provide State agencies with a minimum of 60 days to review the draft document and provide comments. During this time, Carroll County jurisdictions typically provide a concurrent period for public review and comment.

Each municipal representative of the Water Resources Coordination Council presented the staff draft of the Water Resources Element to their planning commissions during the month of November, 2009. Between November 5 and November 30, each municipal planning commission gave approval to release the draft for the 60-day review period.

County Planning staff also presented the initial staff draft to the Carroll County Planning Commission on the evening of Tuesday, November 10, 2009. On November 17, the County Planning Commission gave approval to release the draft for State-required 60-day review period.

To download the entire plan document, please click here 

The draft plan was distributed for review on Friday, December 4, 2009. One document was sent out on behalf of all nine jurisdictions - Carroll County, Hampstead, Manchester, Mount Airy, Manchester, New Windsor, Sykesville, Taneytown, Union Bridge, and Westminster. Comments were requested from State agencies and neighboring jurisdictions by Friday, February 5, 2010. Please click here to read a copy of the cover letter that accompanied the draft plan.

All comments on the draft Water Resources Element, whether general or specific to an individual jurisdiction, can be directed to Brenda Dinne by e-mail to or by mail at 225 North Center Street, Room 204, Westminster MD 21157.