Regulatory Mandates, Plans and Reports

Your Feedback Needed to Shape Healthy Waterways and Communities!

You are invited to help shape the rules that drive what Baltimore City is required to do to improve the water quality of the Chesapeake Bay, while also reducing flooding and making communities more resilient to the effects of climate change. The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) is asking for feedback on Baltimore’s Municipal Separate Sewer System (MS4) Permit, which sets forth stormwater management requirements in the City, and will hold a virtual public information meeting on November 20, 2020.

The MS4 Permit is for a 5-year period and will guide how Baltimore City will keep its neighborhoods and waterways healthy and clean. This includes installing environmental restoration projects and green infrastructure in neighborhoods, overseeing environmental requirements for construction projects, planting trees, monitoring waterways, reducing the use of pesticides and road salts, street sweeping, and providing outreach and education programs, among other programs. 

Public Meeting Information

Information about the draft MS4 Permit and public meeting is available at  https://mde.maryland.gov/programs/water/stormwatermanagementprogram/pages/storm_gen_permit.aspx. (Scroll down to the section titled “Notice of Tentative Determination to Issue Stormwater Permit to Baltimore City (October 23, 2020)”.

The virtual public information meeting for the City’s MS4 Permit will take place Friday, November 20, from 4 p.m. -6 p.m. Registration is required. You can register for the public meeting at https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/2731550132342103309. If you are unable to attend, the meeting will be recorded and available on the MDE website listed above.

Comment Submission

MDE is accepting written comments on the MS4 Permit through January 21, 2021.

For more information about Baltimore City’s MS4 Program, contact Mark Cameron, DPW’s Watershed Planning and Partnerships Division, at [email protected].


Baltimore City, and other local jurisdictions that have a separate storm sewer system, are required to have a stormwater management program, subject to terms of the federal Clean Water Act and approval by the state. This is a condition of the City’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Municipal Separate Storm Sewer (MS4) permit.

Since Baltimore is part of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, it must comply with strict regulations regarding polluted runoff. As part of our MS4 stormwater permit, the City must attain specific measures of runoff control by the end of 2018. Among those measures, Baltimore must restore an equivalent of 20 percent of its impervious surface to the maximum extent possible. Even public education and involvement regarding water quality is covered by the terms of our permit. Baltimore’s program to meet the requirements of the MS4 Permit is outlined in a document called the “MS4 and TMDL Watershed Implementation Plan”. A “TMDL” (Total Maximum Daily Load) is a regulatory term that describes the maximum amount of a pollutant that a body of water can receive while still meeting water quality standards.

As part of the MS4 Permit, the EPA approved a "Trash TMDL" for the Middle Branch and Northwest Portions of the Patapsco River, roughly from Harbor Hospital in the south to Ferry Bar Park (Middle Branch) and Tide Point to Canton Waterfront Park (Northwest Portion).

Watershed Assessments

To restore a watershed, there must be a Watershed Plan. The MS4 Permit requires that, by the end of the permit term, Baltimore City shall complete detailed watershed assessments for the entire City. The following is a list of the previous assessments (those noted with an * are too large to upload):

Planning Area

Major Watershed

Report Title

Year

Upper Back River

Back River

PDF icon UPPER BACK RIVER SWAP Vol 1.PDF

2008

Biddison Run

Back River

SW Improvement Feasibility & Conceptual Design*

2006

Herring Run

Back River

PDF icon HR Stream Master Plan_071304.pdf

2004

Moores Run

Back River

Watershed Restoration Plan*

2001

Direct Harbor

Baltimore Harbor

Watershed Characterization Report

In Progress

Masonville Cove

Baltimore Harbor

PDF icon Masonville Cove-Executive Summary.pdf

2014

Watershed 246

Baltimore Harbor

PDF icon WS 246 HARRIS CREEK SWAP.PDF

2010

Watershed 263

Baltimore Harbor

PDF icon WS263_WS263 Management Plan KCI Aug2006.pdf

2006

Lower Jones Falls

Jones Falls

PDF icon LOWER JONES FALLS SWAP.pdf

2008

Western Run

Jones Falls

Stream Assessment*

2004

Stony Run

Jones Falls

Watershed Restoration Plan*

2001

Gwynns Falls

Gwynns Falls

PDF icon GWYNNS FALLS WATER QUALITY MANAGEMENT PLAN - EXEC. SUMMARY.pdf

2004

Powder Mill

Gwynns Falls

PDF icon Powder Mill Targeted Report Final.pdf

2004

Maidens Choice

Gwynns Falls

Watershed Restoration Plan*

2001

Lower North Branch Patapsco

Lower North Branch Patapsco

Watershed Assessment

In Progress