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Service Area Category Changes


Water and sewer service area categories established in the County’s Water and Sewer Plan serve in part to designate where the County has planned either for public water or sewer service or for private wells and septic systems. 

A property owner will file a request with DEP to change a property’s service area categories most often in order to allow for public water or sewer service for a property currently planned to use onsite wells and septic systems. DEP receives category change requests from a variety of applicants, including: owners of properties looking for service for an existing house, development interests planning multiple-lot subdivisions, and places of worship planning to relocate to a larger site. 

This page has instructions for filing a category change request application with DEP.  All category change request applications proceed through an intake, review, and decision process, as explained below. 


The Status Change Process

Application Review Process

Once each calendar quarter, DEP provides the category change request applications collected in that quarter to other agencies for their review and comment. These include the Department of Permitting Services (DPS), the Montgomery County Department of Parks and Planning (M-NCPPC), and the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC).  


Current Applications


DEP staff consider agency comments along with and internal review and develop recommendations that will determine which of two tracks the application follow.  All applications go through either an administrative process review or a County Council process review. By default, category change requests—as amendments to the County's Water and Sewer Plan—are intended to be considered by the County Council, as provided for under state law.

In the mid-1980s however, the Council found itself having to address many requests of a fairly routine nature. In response, the Council developed and adopted the administrative delegation process for approving noncontroversial category change requests. Under limited circumstances, the executive branch of the County government (through the Director of DEP) acts on category change requests through the administrative process review. DEP may act to approve or conditionally approve an amendment or to defer an amendment to the Council for its process review. The Director's authority is discretionary. The Director of DEP may also defer action on any potential administrative amendment to the County Council.  The majority of category change request applications are now addressed through the administrative process.

Learn about the Council and administrative processes. 



Types of Processes


Schedule and Completed Actions




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