Baltimore County Department of Environmental Protection and Sustainability (EPS)

Key Services

  • Conducted Research of Existing Watershed Reports
  • GIS Analysis
  • Neighborhood Source Assessments
  • Stream Corridor Assessments (Inventory Environmental Features, Infrastructure)
  • Identifying Limits and Severity of Environmental Problems
  • Identification and Prioritization of Restoration Areas
  • Watershed Characterization and SWAP Report Preparation

Project Details

CRI assisted with the development of Baltimore County Small Watershed Action Plans (SWAPs) for Areas A (Lower Patapsco), K (Bird River), N (Lower Gunpowder Falls – Urban), and B (Upper Patapsco). The intent of the SWAPs was to address water quality mandates and meet EPA a-i watershed planning criteria in those watersheds. Examples of future criteria that Baltimore County must meet include Baltimore County NPDES Municipal Discharge Permits, Maryland Tributary Strategy, or watershed specific/Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) standards.

For Area A, in close collaboration with several divisions of EPS, CRI conducted an extensive review of GIS files from the 2000 Patapsco River Watershed Water Quality Management Plan (WQMP). The previous 10 large sub-watersheds and 97 sub-catchments were reorganized into 16 new subwatersheds. CRI then developed a geodatabase with feature classes for both the Patapsco WQMP and a separate watershed survey conducted by the Friends of the Patapsco Valley Heritage and Greenway (FPVGH). Standard metadata associated with each feature class was created and GIS mapping was generated in order to meet current EPS requirements.

For Areas K, N, and B, CRI delineated residential neighborhoods in GIS and led fieldwork to perform Neighborhood Source Assessments (NSAs) in each area. Fieldwork consisted of windshield surveys to evaluate specific source areas within each neighborhood including yards and lawns, driveways, sidewalks and curbs, rooftops, and common areas as outlined in the Center for Watershed Protection’s Unified Subwatershed and Site Reconnaissance (USSR) procedures.

CRI was also responsible for the Stream Assessment portions of each SWAP, which involved the review and analysis of the previous watershed reports. CRI examined the reports for all relevant information, focusing on areas with impacted streams and deviations from reference reach conditions. Data re-evaluation included characterization of the stream network and potential stream restoration or stormwater management BMP projects. CRI’s final review of the previous studies documented potential stream restoration and BMP project recommendations, if applicable, for use in future monitoring, management, and conservation efforts.

For Area N, CRI also conducted windshield surveys of the streams identified in previous watershed reports to determine if the need for restoration still existed. For Area K, CRI walked and assessed more than 15 miles of stream in three subwatersheds using the Stream Corridor Assessment (SCA) protocol as specified by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. After desktop review and preparation, CRI led field teams to perform the stream assessments, which focused on an inventory of common environmental problems, specifically, stream erosion, riparian buffers, fish migration blockages, exposed or discharging pipes, channelized stream sections, trash dumping sites, in or near stream construction, and any other noteworthy unusual conditions. SCA fieldwork included identifying, describing, and taking GPS data for each problem encountered. Results included mapping of the potential problems ranked by severity and identification of the most severe erosion and inadequate buffer areas to inform future planning and management efforts.

CRI prepared report text and created GIS report figures for the applicable sections of the Watershed Characterization reports. For the SWAP reports, CRI ranked the stream restoration potential for each subwatershed based on the length of stream recommended for restoration, either from previous watershed reports or stream assessments conducted for the SWAP.