Water use and appropriation of maryland s waters
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Water Use and Appropriation of Maryland’s Waters. STATUTORY AUTHORITY. Subtitle 5 of the Annotated Code of Maryland (§5-204)

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Water Use and Appropriation of Maryland’s Waters

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Water use and appropriation of maryland s waters

Water Use and Appropriation of Maryland’s Waters

Statutory authority


  • Subtitle 5 of the Annotated Code of Maryland (§5-204)

  • “In order to conserve, protect, and use the water resources of the State in accordance with the best interests of the people of Maryland, it is the policy of the State to control, so far as feasible, appropriation or use of surface waters and groundwaters of the State.”

Reasonable use doctrine basis of maryland water law

REASONABLE USE DOCTRINEBasis of Maryland water law

  • All land owners have the right to make a reasonable use of the water associated with their property

  • Their rights are governed by the rights of other landowners.

Reasonableness criteria


Address the Reasonableness of:

  • The requested quantity

  • The impact to the resource

  • The impact on other users

Who needs a permit

Who needs a permit?

  • The withdrawal of water for any purpose requires a permit with five exceptions:

    • Individual domestic use - the well that supplies water to your house

    • Small agricultural users - under 10,000 gallons per day on an annual average

    • Creating a subdivision of 10 lots or less

    • Withdrawing water to fight a fire

    • Temporary construction dewatering

Public participation

Public Participation

  • Adjoining property owners notified by applicant of their request - local officials notified by applicant

  • General public notified through subscription mailing list by Dept.

  • When application is complete Dept. notifies adjoining property owners, local officials and publishes notice in newspapers

Public participation cont

Public Participation (cont)

  • Public can review file

  • Public can request informational hearing

  • Person with standing can contest a stay of a permit and contest permit within two weeks of issuance

Reasonable quantity

Reasonable Quantity

  • Growth projections and non wasteful usage rates

  • Aquifer tests are evaluated in order to ensure permitted quantities are realizable under drought conditions

  • Mass flow analysis using appropriate gage data and drought of record to determine needed size of reservoir

Impacts to the resource

Impacts to the Resource

  • GROUND WATER – unconfined aquifer

  • Use drought year recharge rate – adjusted for impervious surfaces

  • Preserve stream base flow

  • Dependant on property under ownership and control of applicant

  • Applied to watersheds of two square miles and greater

Impacts to the resource1

Impacts to the Resource

  • GROUND WATER – confined aquifer

    • 80% management level preserved

    • Pump kept above top of aquifer

Impacts to the resource2

Impacts to the Resource

  • Surface Water

    • Require seasonally adjusted minimum flow-by represents flow that is exceeded in 85 percent of measurements during that season

    • Users needs to either have storage(reservoir) instream or offstream, another back up source or agree to not use the source when flow-by conditions are not met

Impacts to other users

Impacts to Other Users

  • Ground Water

    • Aquifer tests are used to predict drawdowns in nearby wells

    • MDE may require water level monitoring and/or reduce requested amounts to protect other wells

    • MDE may require applicant to replace impacted well or find alternate water source

Impacts to other users1

Impacts to Other Users

  • Surface Water

    • In Maryland quantities requested are typically small percentage of stream flow

    • In Potomac River Basin upstream consumptive use is required to be eliminated under drought conditions

    • City of Baltimore exempted from permit requirements

Water use and appropriation of maryland s waters

1800 Washington Boulevard | Baltimore, MD 21230-1718410-537-3000 | TTY Users: 1-800-735-2258www.mde.state.md.us

Maryland Department of the Environment

Water Supply Program(410) 537-3714

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