The Department of Environmental Protection (“DEP”) will be making available several new tools that should aid municipalities, non-profits, and other groups to address water quality, especially in the lower Chesapeake Bay watershed. DEP has announced the availability of a new web-based interactive map that will hopefully ease the process for local governments to apply for municipal separate storm sewer system (MS4) permits. Municipalities in urbanized areas must obtain such permits, or waivers, to address stormwater within their jurisdictions. The new GIS mapping tool gives municipalities with small MS4s an interactive, georeferenced map that visually integrates urbanized areas, waterways flowing through and near those areas, and pollutant reduction responsibilities that municipalities may need to address for waterways that are impaired and received stormwater discharges. This tool can be found here.
DEP in the near future is also expected to make publically available a list and map of prioritized sub-watersheds in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, particularly in the lower areas of the watershed. The intent of this tool is to guide efforts to address both local and Chesapeake Bay water quality by focusing efforts on critical streams in order to achieve cost-effective and visible improvements. The hope is that this listing will encourage coordination and cooperation among municipalities, watershed groups, other non-profits, and the agricultural community in efforts to address the most impaired and environmentally critical streams.