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County Water & Sewer Plan

 

All of us need fresh water every day. We drink it, bathe in it, cook and clean with it, and play in it. We use it to put out fires, build, landscape, cultivate, experiment, and manufacture. Then, the water we have used, now wastewater, requires safe, effective ways to dispose of, recycle, or reuse it that protect human health and the environment.  The County uses a combination of public and private water and sewerage systems to accomplish these goals.

A plan to coordinate and maintain these services is an essential part of the County's responsibilities to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of its citizens. This is the Comprehensive Water Supply and Sewerage Systems Plan (Water and Sewer Plan).

As required by the State of Maryland, Montgomery County periodically prepares and approves a comprehensive update of the Water and Sewer Plan. The Water and Sewer Plan is prepared by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), transmitted by the County Executive for the County Council’s consideration, and subsequently approved by the Council.

The 2018 update of the Plan, linked below, is the most recent comprehensive update approved by the County Council in October 2018.  The Council-approved plan is currently under review by the Maryland Department of the Environment.

DEP plans to prepare annual technical updates to the 2018 Water and Sewer Plan in the fall of 2019 and 2020.  The purpose of these technical updates will be to keep information about the water supply and sewerage systems serving the county up to date.  The next comprehensive update of the Water and Sewer Plan will occur in 2021.

 

 

 

 

Background and Process

In Maryland, the planning and coordination for sanitary services are delegated from the state to each county government. The Montgomery County government addresses this responsibility through the Ten-Year Comprehensive Water Supply and Sewerage Systems Plan (Water and Sewer Plan), which ensures that existing and future water supply and wastewater disposal needs are coordinated in a manner that:

  • Is timely and cost-effective

  • Is well integrated with land use planning efforts

  • Protects the health, safety, and welfare of residents, businesses, and institutions

  • Protects the quality of the environmental resources of the county, the state, and the Chesapeake Bay region

  • Helps to improve the quality of the environmental resources of the county, state, and region


View and download sections of the Ten-Year Comprehensive Water Supply and Sewerage Systems Plan

The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) requires the County to prepare a comprehensive update of the Water and Sewer Plan every three years. Between comprehensive updates, the County approves amendments to the plan (such as service area categories, new or revised policies, and technical information) through procedures described in Chapter 1 of the plan. Under state law, the County Council is responsible for approving the plan and its amendments.

The County Executive, acting through the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), prepares the plan's comprehensive updates and also provides recommendations to the Council for action on proposed amendments.

DEP, with the assistance of other agencies, develops some amendments, typically those that involve policy issues or affect groups of properties. Property owners also propose amendments, usually those involving single properties or larger tracts intended for subdivision of new lots. 

 

Purpose and Function of the Plan

The Water and Sewer Plan is a functional master plan for providing water and sewer services throughout Montgomery County. As such, it provides an important link between the County's land use and development planning and the actual construction of the water supply and sewerage systems needed to implement that planning effort.

The Water and Sewer Plan establishes policies that support the goals and objectives of the  County's General Plan,  On Wedges and Corridors , and its related local area sector and master plans. These policies emphasize:

  • The use of public water and sewerage systems along higher-density urban and suburban development areas

  • The use of individual, on-site wells, and septic systems throughout lower-density suburban, rural, and agricultural areas

The plan's policies are implemented in part by assigning  water and sewer service area categories for all properties within the County. The service area categories:

  • Designate whether properties are intended to be developed using (and are eligible for) public or private service

  • Provide staging elements or a sequence for planning and providing public service

The plan provides information on the County's existing water supply and sewerage systems from beginning to end. It includes everything from the point where raw water is drawn from a surface water body or groundwater supply, through delivery and use by the consumer, to the final treatment and disposal or reuse of wastewater effluent.

The plan provides projections for the future needs of water and sewerage systems, which result from land use planning studies, demographic projections, legal mandates, and policy requirements. It addresses these needs using a variety of approaches, such as:

  • New, expanded, or replacement water and sewer facilities, such as transmission mains, pumping stations, storage tanks, or treatment plants

  • Expansion of existing water or sewerage systems, or the use of alternative systems, to address communities experiencing public health problems from failing wells or septic systems

  • New or updated programs and service policies that address issues like changes in sanitary service technology, support for new development concepts and protection from undesired sanitary system expansion or on-site system use.

 

Contents of the Montgomery County Water and Sewer Plan

The content of the 2018 update of the  Comprehensive Water Supply and Sewerage Systems Plan, which is specified by state laws and regulations, is as follows:

  • Introduction

  • Chapter 1: Objectives and Policies provides the legal requirements for the plan; the County's overall objectives for water and sewer service; the policies addressing the provision of water and sewer service by both public systems and private onsite systems; public and private systems financing, and the procedures and organizational roles through which the County and state adopt, amend, and administer the plan.  

  • Chapter 2: General Background provides background information on Montgomery County's natural and man-made environment relevant to the provision of water and sewer service by both public and individual systems.

  • Chapter 3: Water Supply Systems provides information on the County's existing water supply systems and on planning efforts to ensure that the County's mid- and long-term water supply needs will be satisfied in a manner consistent with public policy and the plan's objectives. Regional planning issues, as they relate to the County, are also addressed.

  • Chapter 4: Sewerage Systems provides information on the County's existing sewerage systems and on planning efforts to ensure that the County's mid- and long-term sewerage needs are and will be satisfied in a manner consistent with public policy and the plan's objectives. Regional planning issues, as they relate to the County, are also addressed. 

  • Appendix A  Glossary

  • Appendix B – Multiuse Water and Sewer Facilities (Large-capacity individual, onsite systems)

  • Appendix C – Exceptional Service Policies and Recommendations

  • Appendix D – Local, Municipal, State, and Regional Agencies

  • Appendix E – County’s Major Public Facilities and Institutions

  • Council Resolution

  • Water Categories Map

  • Sewer Categories Map

Water and Sewer Service Area Category Maps provide the  service area category designations  established in the plan for each property in the County.

 

Service Planning Coordination with Land Use Planning

Coordination between the Water and Sewer Plan and local area master plans and sector plans is crucial to the development planning and water/sewer planning processes. Master and sector plans direct the character, pattern and density of development in the County's communities. The level of coordination between master plans and water/sewer service planning varies. A sector plan for downtown Bethesda, an area served exclusively by public systems, will address water and sewer service issues minimally. However, the approved master plan for Damascus, where the boundaries between areas recommended for service by public utilities as opposed to private water and sewer systems have changed, addresses the subject at greater length. For master plan areas such as Damascus, DEP staff members are usually involved in the master plan development, review, and approval process from the early stages. 

 

 
 
 
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