Surface Water Intakes

The Indicator

Supplying water for agricultural irrigation and for a variety of urban purposes–residents, commercial areas, power production and other industry–is one of the most visible functions of the water resources of the state. From the standpoint of protecting water quality, water withdrawn for public water supplies intended largely for human consumption is of the most critical interest. While much of Maryland derives its drinking supplies from ground water, particularly on the Eastern Shore, major urban areas in the central portion of the State rely on surface water supplies, as do smaller communities in the western portions of the state.

Information for this indicator was derived from information developed by the Water Rights Division of the Maryland Department of Environment, which has the responsibility for regulating water use through an appropriation permit system, combined with forest cover information from the National Land Cover Data set (NLCD). The mapped information incorporates appropriation permits issued through 2000.

Indicator Use

While there has been a long-standing perception that the State of Maryland has an adequate supply of water for all its citizens and for all uses, drought emergencies were called during several summers at the turn of the twenty-first century. The droughts have highlighted the need to safeguard both surface and ground water supply sources, including their watersheds. Retaining forest cover in the watersheds of public drinking water supplies is important for maintaining the quality of the source water, including reducing the potential difficulty and costs associated with treating the water.

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