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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

Administrative Process

To qualify for the administrative process, a category change request must satisfy the requirements of one of several individual service policies in the County's Water and Sewer Plan:

  • Consistent with Water and Sewer Plan policies and master plan recommendations

  • Intended to relieve a public health problem for a single property resulting from a failing well and/or septic system

  • Seeking public service for single properties that abut and predate an existing or approved water or sewer main

  • Seeking public service for government buildings and facilities

  • Seeking the approval of large-capacity (multiuse) on-site systems, typically for commercial or institutional uses


To complete the administrative process review, DEP staff develop recommendations on the case and must get the concurrence of the Montgomery County Planning Board and the individual members of the County Council. DEP conducts four administrative hearings each year. 

Application requests that go through the administrative process are reviewed as follows:

  1. DEP provides a notice of the public hearing to State and County agencies at least 30 days in advance of the hearing date. DEP also publishes a notice of the hearing in The Sentinel, at least 10 days prior to the hearing.  (These notices satisfy the State’s requirements for the hearing process.)

  2. DEP provides hearing notices to each of the category change request applicants via email.  In addition, DEP mails postcards announcing the administrative hearing date to all property owners next to and adjoining and confronting the request site, and to civic organizations registered with the County in the vicinity of the request site.
    The Montgomery County Planning Board meets to consider Planning Department staff recommendations on the administrative applications, accept testimony, and approve a recommendation to the DEP Director. 

  3. DEP holds an administrative public hearing at which time questions can be answered and testimony (verbal or written) is accepted for the applications in that administrative group.

  4. When the hearing record is closed and all public testimony has been taken into consideration, applications that may be approved administratively are recommended to the Director of the Department of Environmental Protection as amendments to the Water and Sewer Plan.  County Council staff notify DEP concerning the concurrence of the individual Council members with the proposed administrative action.

  5. The Director reviews the recommendations and finalizes the administrative action. 

  6. All interested parties are notified of the amendments.

  7. The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) is notified of the amendments and has a 90-day review period. MDE then notifies DEP of its concurrence with or disapproval of the administrative action.

Note that administrative approval of each request application requires the concurrence of the Planning Board as a body, each of the nine Council members, and the DEP Director.  DEP defers applications lacking this concurrence to the County Council for consideration. 


How to Prepare for Your Public Hearing

Review the DEP staff recommendation and staff report made available to you for your case. Contact DEP staff if you have any questions. You may submit written testimony about your application to the Director of the Department of Environmental Protection, 255 Rockville Pike, Suite 120, Rockville, MD 20850. All testimony must be submitted before the hearing record closing date. 

The closing date for each public hearing is provided in the hearing notice provided by DEP. Hearings held at DEP’s offices are accessible to handicapped individuals. Interpreter services for hearing impaired citizens may be guaranteed subject to at least five business days notice. 

For further assistance, contact DEP staff in the Water Supply and Wastewater Policy Group:



Schedule and Completed Actions

Application Hearing Schedule

The following provides information on the current or most recent administrative delegation and County Council hearing groups.  The administrative group starts immediately below and the County Council follows after that.

Current Administrative Review Packet

AD 2017-1 Administrative Packet

This administrative hearing will include the following map and text amendments:

  • 17-TRV-03A at 11801 Stoney Creek Rd., Potomac: by J. Liu for public sewer service.



Public Hearing Schedule

Date/Time: Wednesday, March 8, 2017, at 2:00 p.m.
Location: DEP, 255 Rockville Pike, Suite #120, Rockville, MD 20850 

DEP expects to close the hearing record at 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, March 15, 2017, with two exceptions*. All written testimony must be received by DEP by the specified date and time.  Submit written testimony to “Lisa Feldt, Director; DEP; 255 Rockville Pk., Suite 120; Rockville MD 20850-4166”.

Planning Board Hearing and Work Session

The County Planning Board will consider M-NCPPC staff recommendations for these map amendments and take public testimony if offered.  The Board will then forward its recommendations to DEP as part of the administrative hearing process.  Please refer to the Planning Board’s website for information on providing testimony, for agenda details, and for the M-NCPPC staff report.

Planned Date: Thursday, February 23, 2017
Time: Refer to the Board’s posted agenda (see the link above) starting on February 17, 2017
Location: M-NCPPC Montgomery Regional Office; 8787 Georgia Ave., First Floor Auditorium, Silver Spring


Current County Council Review Packet

County Executive’s June 2016 Category Change Packet and Transmittal

The Executive’s packet includes the following requested category map amendments:

  • WSCCR 15-GWC-01A (St. John Neumann Catholic Parish) at 20701 Goshen Rd. & 9001 Warfield Rd., Gaithersburg: for public sewer service.

  • WSCCR 16-OLN-02A (Akbari) at 17131 Old Baltimore Rd., Olney: for public water and sewer service.

  • WSCCR 09A-TRV-02 (Smart) at 13101 Valley Dr., Rockville: for public sewer service.

  • WSCCR 15-TRV-01A (Lau) at 12100 Glen Rd., Rockville: for public sewer service.

  • WSCCR 15-TRV-04A (Geringer) at 13005 Foxden Dr., Rockville: for public sewer service.


Public Hearing and Worksession Schedule

  • Date/Time: Thursday, September 22, 2016 (time to be announced) Refer to  Planning Board website starting on September 16th for the September 22nd agenda. 
  • Location:M-NCPPC Auditorium, 8787 Georgia Avenue, Silver Spring

  • Date/Time: Thursday, September 27, 2016, at 1:30 p.m.
  • Location: Third Floor Hearing Room, Council Office Building, 100 Maryland Avenue, Rockville
  • Hearing record closes on (to be announced).   Download the hearing notice (PDF, 311KB)

  • Date/Time:Tuesday, October 18, 2016. (Time to be announced. 
  • Please check the Council’s agenda for the scheduling of and additional information about this item, including the County Council staff packet.    View the County Council staff packet for this meeting
  • Location: Third Floor Hearing Room, Council Office Building, 100 Maryland Avenue, Rockville

View "Completed Actions" below to see recent Council resolutions for the Water and Sewer Plan.
Learn more about the public hearing process





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