Maryland's Watershed Implementation Plan

Photo of the Week: Warehouse Creek

Collectively, the EPA's TMDL and the state Watershed Implementation Plans establish the Clean Water Blueprint for the Chesapeake.

Maryland and the other six Bay jurisdictions agreed to create state-specific plans to implement 60 percent of their Bay cleanup practices by 2017 and 100 percent by 2025. These plans are called Watershed Implementation Plans or WIPs and will not only help restore the Bay, but will also significantly improve the health of local waterways.

in millions of pounds per year
1985 2009 2014 2016
2017 Milestone 2025 Goal
Nitrogen 76.56 51.95 49.81 47.99 45.73 41.17
Phosphorus 5.36 3.3 2.92 2.80 2.63 2.81
Sediment 1,871.29 1,395.12 1,298.75 1,195.45 1,252.00 1,349.65
Go to Maryland's WIP website >>

Maryland submitted its "Phase 1" WIP to EPA in early 2011. The next step in the process was the development of a "Phase II" WIP, which was to bring the effort to a more localized level, such as county.

In 2018, Maryland and the other Bay jurisdictions are to submit a Phase III WIP which will focus on ensuring that all practices are in place by 2025 to meet the Bay TMDL restoration goals.


Two-year milestones provide transparency and accountability for restoration efforts. In June 2017, CBF released its assessment for the first year of the 2016-17 milestone period. The assessment looked at the practices Maryland put in place in 2016, as well as selected programs it has designed to acheive long-term goals. Download the report

Maryland's Progress Toward 2017 Milestones

Nitrogen Phosphorus Sediment
Agriculture yellow green green
U&S Polluted Runoff red red red
Wastewater & CSO† † green green green
Septic red N/A* N/A*
All Sources yellow green green


red Off-track by more than 10 percent
yellow Off-track by less than 10 percent
green On-track


* No contribution from this source sector
Urban & Suburban
† † Combined Sewer Outflow




Program Milestone: Upgrade minor wastewater treatment plants using state grant/loan support.

Maryland's Bay Restoration Fund (BRF) is on track to fully finance Enhanced Nutrient Removal (ENR) upgrades to all of Maryland’s 67 largest wastewater treatment plants. This allows for BRF funds to be available for other uses. The General Assembly has prioritized these funds to pay for upgrades to smaller wastewater plants and authorized state assistance to help these plants achieve ENR levels of treatment.

Program Milestone: Facilitate implementation of septic connections to already upgraded treatment plants. Review and expand a range of new, innovative, cost-effective, best-available nitrogen removal technologies to be available for upgrade of septic systems in Maryland.
The state has increased emphasis on connecting septic systems to sewer lines by prioritizing these projects for BRF investments and providing technical assistance to local jurisdictions. Unfortunately, this approach is inadequate to address pollution from septic systems beyond the reach of public sewer.

In 2014, the state committed to develop a septic implementation strategy for public review. As of 2017, a strategy has not been released. Furthermore, Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) stopped requiring the use of nitrogen removal technology on new systems located farther than 1,000 feet from tidal waters, despite encouraging new technologies.

The state should define a comprehensive strategy to reduce pollution from septic systems and describe how increased pollution from new septic systems will be offset.


Program Milestone: Analyze Financial Assurance Plans for all local jurisdictions with an MS4 permit to determine if they meet specific criteria in Maryland law. Review, approve, and/or take appropriate enforcement actions on submitted Phase I MS4 Restoration Plans.
Over a five-year period, Maryland’s Phase I Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) jurisdictions are required to apply pollution-reduction practices that filter the rain running off 20 percent of a local jurisdictions’ untreated impervious (paved or hardened) surfaces.

The General Assembly required MS4 municipalities to write Restoration Plans and Financial Assurance Plans that describe how the local jurisdiction intends to achieve this goal. MDE has reviewed most of these plans; however, the agency has not taken action to correct plans that fail to identify sufficient funding or propose an adequate level of restoration activity.

Program Milestone: Issue tentative and final determinations for Phase II MS4 permits.
Stormwater in smaller urban areas is regulated by Phase II MS4 permits. MDE is currently in the process of developing the next version of Phase II permits, which will include additional communities not previously regulated.

Unfortunately, the draft permit fails to require any restoration activities within the five-year permit term.


Program Milestone: Phase in the Phosphorus Management Tool (PMT) through 2022.
Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) has been working diligently with Maryland’s farmers to obtain phosphorus soil data in order to establish Phosphorus Management Tool implementation tiers. To fully implement the Phosphorus Management Tool, MDA must remain diligent in gathering complete reporting data from farms which may have high phosphorus saturation and must cease phosphorus applications.

CBF is participating in the Delmarva Land and Litter Challenge to identify the amounts and locations of poultry litter that exceed local crop needs. Current programs to match excess manure with farms where it can be used safely and that provide cost share funding for transport may need to be expanded.


Maryland has taken significant steps to increase restoration activity. Much of this progress has been made possible by fully funding and effectively targeting state clean-water investments, including the BRF and the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund. The state should continue to target expenditures and leverage this funding with other sources, such as grants made available through the Chesapeake Bay Program, to accelerate restoration progress.

Unfortunately, new pollution from land development and expansion of animal agriculture threatens to undermine investments made to reduce pollution from existing sources. Maryland missed its 2016 pollution-reduction goals for urban polluted runoff by 15 percent and septic systems by 20 percent. New pollution sources will add to this deficit. The state has repeatedly submitted—and missed—milestones to track this new pollution and develop policies to offset it.

The Chesapeake Bay Program is working to provide tools for the states to project future growth and account for new pollution. This is a top priority and Maryland needs to immediately define and implement an offset policy for new pollution sources.

The Phase III WIPs will provide information on actions the jurisdictions intend to implement between 2018 and 2025.

You can track progress for all Bay jurisdictions, including Maryland, on EPA's Chesapeake Stat website. On EPA's Chesapeake Bay TMDL website you can read about progress already being realized.

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The Time Is Now!

CBF President Will Baker spoke to environmental advocates the Maryland Environmental Legislative Summit about why protecting EPA's Chesapeake Bay pollution limits during the current General Assembly session is critical. Watch the video above to hear what he had to say.

The decline of the Bay has cost our region billions of dollars in lost jobs, revenue, and resources and threatens to be a continuing drag on local and state economies for years to come. To find out more about the economic impact of the Bay to the region, see the following CBF reports:

Debunking the "Job Killer" Myth: How Pollution Limits Encourage Jobs in the Chesapeake Bay Region (pdf)

The Economic Argument for Cleaning Up the Bay and Its Rivers (pdf)

Oyster Report: On the Brink (pdf)

Bad Waters and the Decline of Blue Crabs in the Chesapeake Bay (pdf)

Bay pollution also threatens public health. To read more about health threats, see CBF's report Bad Water 2009: The Impact of Human Health in the Chesapeake Bay Region (pdf)

You can find the EPA pollution limit documents on the EPA's Chesapeake Bay TMDL website.

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