The purpose of the Water Resources Element (WRE) is to ensure that future county and municipal comprehensive plans reflect the opportunities and limitations presented by local and regional water resources. WREs are intended to improve local jurisdictions’ contribution to the protection of state land and water resources; to the protection of public health, safety and welfare; and to meeting local and state smart growth policies.
Geographical Context of Watersheds
To achieve these purposes, planning must reflect the broader geographical context of watersheds. Successful WREs will be based on this perspective. The common goals for Maryland’s water resources are reflected in the Chesapeake Bay Tributary Strategies, federal and state regulatory programs and smart growth policies. Due to the inherent physical and geographic nature of water resources, it is imperative that the water resources element be developed through interjurisdictional coordination with a watershed focus. This is true for both counties and municipalities. Counties and municipalities will need to work together to properly complete WREs. Because watersheds, water supply areas and water quality issues often overlap political boundaries, interjurisdictional coordination is critical to a successful WRE. Tributary Teams, regional councils of government and watershed-based organizations can assist local governments with this coordination.
Once the current information is established, the status of water supplies and of receiving streams in a jurisdiction should be predicted in the context of the local land use plan element of the comprehensive plan as well as any other predictors of growth. Specifically, the WRE should outline the adequacy of water and wastewater resources with respect to future growth. The WRE should act as an early warning system to determine if water resources will be adequate to support growth in a jurisdiction.