Jones Falls Watershed
The Jones Falls watershed encompasses 40 square miles including rural segments of Baltimore County at its upper reaches. The headwaters of the Jones Falls begin in Greenspring Valley and the stream meanders east through several farms, country clubs and private schools, until it reaches Lake Roland. At Lake Roland the river merges with the eastern tributaries and then continues southward over the dam and through Baltimore City. It finally emerges from a tunnel in Baltimore City’s Inner Harbor. More than 200,000 residents live in the Jones Falls watershed, 67,000 of whom live in the County.
This watershed is divided by the County’s urban rural demarcation line (URDL) with rural countryside at the headwaters to the west and highly urbanized areas to the east. The URDL separates areas in the County that receive public water and sewer infrastructure, with those that rely on private well and septic systems. Areas inside the URDL can accommodate development, including employment, retail and residences while the areas outside are reserved for agricultural, natural resource protection and low density rural residential development.
Nearly two-thirds of this watershed is located in rural Baltimore County, which is predominantly cropland and low-density development outside the URDL. The most heavily developed areas are in the eastern and southern portions of the watershed where nearly one-third of the land area is covered by impervious surfaces such as parking lots, sidewalks and driveways.
This watershed offers an abundance of recreational opportunities. From the rural headwaters down to Lake Roland, the water quality in the Jones Falls is exceptionally good and supports a healthy, self-sustaining brown trout population. Lake Roland features many paths and trails for hiking, birding and biking. It is home to many private and public golf courses and country clubs and several of the areas well known medical and educational institutions including Towson University, Sheppard Pratt, Greater Baltimore Medical Center and St. Joseph’s Hospital.
Small Watershed Action Plans
A Small Watershed Action Plan (SWAP) identifies strategies to bring a small watershed into compliance with water quality criteria. Strategies go beyond traditional government capital projects and include projects in partnership with local watershed associations, citizen awareness campaigns and volunteer activities. A SWAP has been completed for the Lower Jones Falls and Northeastern Jones Falls watersheds and will help to guide restoration projects in your neighborhood.
Lower Jones Falls
- Lower Jones Falls SWAP (PDF) contains the results of field and geographic information systems (GIS) data assessments and outlines the actions identified as part of the strategy.
Northeastern Jones Falls
- Northeastern Jones Falls Volume 1 (PDF) outlines the actions identified as part of the restoration strategy.
- Northeastern Jones Falls Volume 2 (PDF) summarizes the field and GIS data assessments.
Upper Jones Falls
- Upper Jones Falls Volume 1 (PDF) outlines the actions identified as part of the restoration strategy.
- Upper Jones Falls Volume 2 (PDF) summarizes the field and GIS data assessments.
Watershed Management Plan
The Jones Falls Watershed Management Plan was completed in January 1997. The executive summary includes tables of land use, water quality problems, and a ranking of water quality and habitat issues. A list of source based restoration and control strategies and stream based strategies with a summary of costs to implement. View and download the executive summary. (PDF)
To participate as a volunteer for the Jones Falls watershed contact Blue Water Baltimore.
Revised May 31, 2016