The Clean Water Action Plan proposes an expanded collaborative effort by state, federal, and local governments, the private sector and the public to restore watersheds not meeting clean water and other natural resource goals and to sustain healthy conditions in watersheds currently meeting those goals. Launched by President Clinton in February 1998, the Clean Water Action Plan addresses all aspects of watershed health: water quality (including public health issues), aquatic living resources, physical habitat, and the landscape.
There are three components of the State's response to the Clean Water Action Plan:
In order to make the Unified Watershed Assessment as useful as possible in developing restoration strategies, Maryland compiled information at the smallest scale for which statewide information is readily available. There are 138 of these "Maryland 8-digit" watersheds in the State, with an average area of about 75 square miles each (Figure 1). (Where information is available, watershed assessments will contain information for smaller sub-watersheds.)
To ensure a consistent scale for watershed assessment nationwide, the federal agencies involved in the Plan (US Environmental Protection Agency - EPA and US Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service - NRCS) have requested assessment information at the hydrologic unit scale established by the U.S. Geological Survey. There are 20 of these 8-digit federal basins in Maryland, with an average area of about 500 square miles each (Figure 2). (The average area of a Maryland county is about 400 square miles.) Maryland reports on the condition of these federal basins by aggregating the assessments of the State's smaller watersheds. In aggregating this information, the larger federal basins are assigned to a selected category when the criteria are met in component smaller watersheds together comprise 15% or more of the total area of the larger watershed within the State.
Two overarching goals were considered in the assessment of Maryland watersheds:
Category 2 - Watershed Needing Preventive Actions to Sustain Water
Any watershed that is not on the 303(d) List and that fails less than two natural resource goals listed above was placed in Category 2. Relatively few State watersheds are identified as Category 2 watersheds.
Category 3 - Pristine or Sensitive Watershed Needing Extra Protection
The following indicators were used to assign watersheds to Category 3:
Watershed Restoration Priorities
After identifying all watersheds that do not meet clean water or other natural resource goals (Category 1 watersheds), the Clean Water Action Plan calls for the selection of the set of those watersheds that are most in need of restoration during the next two years (Priority Watersheds). Priority watersheds are defined as those that failed at least half of the criteria for which data are available. This method gives the fullest consideration of watersheds statewide (since it does not "penalize" those regions for which fewer statewide data are available).
The Workgroup recognized that several other factors should be examined to see if they warranted including additional watersheds in the Category 1 Priority list. These include severity of impact (e.g. Pfiesteria outbreaks), coordination with adjacent states on interstate watersheds; and continued evaluation of new information.
On this basis, four additional watersheds were included in the draft Category 1 Priority List:
|02130102||Assawoman Bay||02130903||Baltimore Harbor|
|02130103||Isle of Wight Bay||02130904||Jones Falls|
|02130105||Newport Bay||02130905||Gwynns Falls|
|02130202||Lower Pocomoke River||02131002||Severn River|
|02130203||Upper Pocomoke River||02131003||South River|
|02130208||Manokin River||02131102||Patuxent River middle|
|02130301||Lower Wicomico River||02131103||Western Branch|
|02130304||Wicomico River Head||02131104||Patuxent River upper|
|02130308||Transquaking River||02131105||Little Patuxent River|
|02130405||Tuckahoe Creek||02140104||Breton Bay|
|02130503||Wye River||02140111||Mattawoman Creek|
|02130506||Langford Creek||02140203||Piscataway Creek|
|02130507||Corsica River||02140204||Oxon Creek|
|02130509||Middle Chester River||02140205||Anacostia River|
|02130511||Kent Island Bay||02140206||Rock Creek|
|02130603||Upper Elk River||02140207||Cabin John Creek|
|02130604||Back Creek||02140208||Seneca Creek|
|02130610||Sassafras River||02140302||Lower Monocacy River|
|02130611||Stillpond-Fairlee||02140303||Upper Monocacy River|
|02130701||Bush River||02140305||Catoctin Creek|
|02130704||Bynum Run||02140502||Antietam Creek|
|02130706||Swan Creek||02140504||Conococheague Creek|
|02130803||Bird River||02141004||Georges Creek|
|02130807||Middle River-Browns Ck||02141005||Upper N Br. Potomac R.|
|02130901||Back River||05020203||Deep Creek Lake|
Many of the other watersheds not included in this list also warrant restoration actions and will be addressed in future years under subsequent revisions to the Clean Water Action Plan that are expected.
Although there is no required prioritization of Category 3 watersheds, those identified with four or more indicators meeting Category goals 3 rating were highlighted as "Selected Category 3 Watersheds". These are listed in Table 2 and are shown in Figure 4.
Table 2. Selected Category 3 (Protection) watersheds.
(NOTE: segments are ordered by watershed code)
|MD 8-Digit Code||Watershed Name||MD 8-Digit Code||Watershed Name|
|02120201||Lower Susquehanna River||02140111||Mattawoman Creek|
|02120202||Deer Creek||02140208||Seneca Creek|
|02120204||Conowingo Dam Susq Run||02140302||Lower Monocacy River|
|02130202||Lower Pocomoke River||02140303||Upper Monocacy River|
|02130305||Nanticoke River||02140502||Antietam Creek|
|02130503||Wye River||02140507||Tonoloway Creek|
|02130603||Upper Elk River||02140510||Sideling Hill Creek|
|02130608||Northeast River||02140511||Fifteen Mile Creek|
|02130806||Prettyboy Reservoir||02140512||Town Creek|
|02130905||Gwynns Falls||02141001||Potomac River Lower N Br.|
|02130907||Liberty Reservoir||02141002||Evitts Creek|
|02131101||Patuxent River Lower tidal||02141004||Georges Creek|
|02140102||Potomac River Middle tidal||02141005||Potomac River Upper N Br.|
|02140103||St. Mary's River||02141006||Savage River|
|02140107||Gilbert Swamp||05020201||Youghiogheny River|
|02140109||Port Tobacco River||05020204||Casselman River|
Overlap between Categories 1 and 3
A number of watersheds fall into both Categories 1 and 3. These watersheds show signs of stress or degradation but still contain pristine or sensitive natural resources. This is not unexpected, since the land use in a watershed may vary considerably. For example, a watershed may have undisturbed headwaters but be significantly developed at its mouth. The Category 1 Priority Watersheds that also qualify as Selected Category 3 Watersheds are shown in Figure 5. These watersheds may deserve special attention in order to reverse or slow degradation before the pristine resources are lost.
Public Involvement Process
A Steering Committee - made up of representatives from the US Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Departments of Natural Resources, Environment, and Agriculture, the Office of Planning, river commissions, Tributary Teams and local governments - was formed to guide the Clean Water Action Plan process. In addition, a Technical Workgroup representing a diverse group of interests was formed to review existing information on watershed conditions and draft the Unified Watershed Assessment.
Six regional public meetings, hosted by Maryland's Tributary Teams, were held around the State in September 1998. At these meetings, more than 300 people, including representatives of local governments, soil conservation districts, watershed organizations, educators, and citizens were provided information about the Plan and comments were recorded and reviewed. A draft executive summary of the report was sent out to approximately 500 people and much of the information about the Clean Water Action Plan was made available through the Department of Natural Resources web site: www.dnr.state.md.us/cwap.
Many of these comments received will be considered in the development of Action Strategies and implementation. Public comments on this report are being accepted until October 15, 1998, and will be considered in final revisions to this draft.
Watershed Restoration Action Strategies
The State's long term objective is to have Watershed Restoration Action Strategies (WRAS) that are comprehensive, and address all aspects of watershed condition: water quality, including public health; aquatic living resources; physical habitat and the landscape. These Strategies will provide information and guidance that will help the public, watershed organizations, and federal, state and local agencies focus their staff and monies in areas and on issues identified as important to the public, and that will result in measurable environmental improvement. The overall goal is to coordinate and focus ongoing watershed conservation and restoration programs and activities, and potential new federal funds, and make them cost-effective and complementary.
The strategies may be drawn from existing assessment and targeting efforts such as a county's comprehensive plan, stormwater and sewer plans, master plans, capital budgets, greenways and open space plans, watershed stewardship programs, site design standards/BMPs, erosion and sediment control plans, soil conservation district watershed work plans and other efforts. A comprehensive strategy will include:
Strategy actions will be supported through new funds authorized by the Clean Water Action Plan and channeled through existing programs such as the Clean Water Act §319, as well as through other State and local programs. These strategies will be encouraged to:
The Lower Eastern Shore has been selected as a pilot area for the development of the State's first Clean Water Action Plan Strategy. The purpose of this strategy is to coordinate and help to focus both ongoing restoration and conservation activities and potential new restoration funding available under the federal program. The Lower Eastern Shore Action Strategy is being coordinated through the Lower Eastern Shore Tributary Team with the assistance of State agencies. Local governments, the Tributary Team, Delaware state agencies, and other interested citizens and organizations will also be involved in strategy development and implementation.
The federal Clean Water Action Plan has stimulated a comprehensive statewide assessment of Maryland's watersheds including a diverse set of factors addressing all aspects of watershed condition. This assessment has involved a broad spectrum of participants from local, state and federal agencies and representatives of many private organizations.
The potential benefits of this approach for Maryland's watersheds are
significant. The results of this process will ultimately provide a comprehensive
framework which other programs can utilize to conduct coordinated activities
on individual watershed issues. These benefits will only increase with
the further evolution of the Clean Water Action Plan's Watershed Approach.