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Baltimore Watershed Agreement

Image of people sitting in an auditorium, looking at a screen at the front of the room.
Audience view at the 2010 State of Our
Watersheds Conference.

Why a Watershed Agreement?

The Baltimore Watershed Agreement (PDF) formalizes the commitment of Baltimore City and Baltimore County to work together on the management and monitoring of shared watersheds (PDF). First signed in 2002 and renewed in 2006, the agreement acknowledges that geographic boundaries of watersheds are more appropriate for managing these important natural resources than political boundaries.

Rivers and streams don't fall neatly within city and county boundaries. Many of the streams are shared by Baltimore County and Baltimore City. The headwaters of the Gwynns Falls and Jones Falls, for example, are in Baltimore County but the streams flow to the harbor. Herring Run begins in the County, meanders through the City, and finally empties into the Back River in the County. Drinking water is another  shared resource. The Prettyboy, Liberty and Loch Raven Reservoirs are owned and managed by Baltimore City, but are located in Baltimore County. They provide drinking water for much of the Baltimore Metropolitan region. Since 1984 the local governments in the region have worked cooperatively to protect the drinking water reservoirs. The Reservoir Agreement became a sort of model for the Watershed Agreement.

Environmental Justice

Environmental justice and sustainable communities emerged as two cross cutting themes during the formulation of the Action Plan. Baltimore County initiated research with Biohabitats Inc. to develop a GIS mapping model that could be incorporated into the county's small watershed action plans (SWAPs). The final report is available below.

Action Plan

The formulation of a Phase 1 Action Plan (2.8 MB PDF) is complete. This reflects agreed upon goals and high-priority, short term actions for Baltimore County and Baltimore City to pursue. The Plan is organized by common categories: Implementation, Policy and Regulation, Planning and collaboration, Education, and Outreach and Awareness. These cross the five topic areas identified in the Agreement which are Stormwater, Greening, Public Health, Development and Redevelopment and Trash. Two important areas of concern, sustainable communities and environmental justice are woven into the Plan actions. A progress report (PDF) on the actions was presented at the 2010 conference and describes the primary actions with their changes since the previous year.

State of Our Watersheds 2010 Conference, Success!

Thanks to all that participated in the 2010 conference. Your feedback to the presenters and agency officials is an important  part of improving the water quality of our streams, harbor and the Chesapeake Bay. Below are some of the presentations that were heard at the March 13, 2010 conference (PDF).


In 2002, leaders from the two jurisdictions signed the first Baltimore Watershed Agreement. Since then Baltimore City and Baltimore County have shared stream monitoring information, worked together on restoration projects, collaborated on issues regarding environmental regulations, provided support to local watershed organizations, and held seminars and conferences to report to the citizens of the region on the state of our shared waters.

Just as the Chesapeake 2000 agreement and its predecessors brought together the District of Columbia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia and established measurable goals to improve the health of the Bay, the Baltimore Watershed Agreement set goals for the rivers and streams in our area. Meeting these goals will contribute to improving water quality in the Bay as well as in our own backyards.

The 2006 Agreement identifies specific issues that affect the shared water resources of the two entities and provides a road map for joint initiatives. It creates a “Committee of Principals” composed of agency heads as well as citizen leaders, and sets timetables for the development of joint goals as well as action strategies. It establishes a process whereby both the bureaucracies of the two governments and the citizen leaders can hold themselves accountable for addressing water quality management issues effectively.

Looking Ahead

Work is underway in the five focus areas identified in the 2006 Agreement.

  • Stormwater
  • Community Greening
  • Redevelopment and Development
  • Public Health
  • Trash

The Committee of Principals has created a set of workgroups and is overseeing their efforts to develop goals and action strategies. The five focus areas are very interrelated. Making progress in each of them promises to improve the quality of life for the citizens of Baltimore City and Baltimore County while simultaneously helping the jurisdictions to meet their water quality requirements as well as their obligations to improve regional rivers and the Bay.

Find out More

You can read about the Baltimore Watershed Agreement through the links below:

Contact Information

Watershed Management and Monitoring
Fax: 410-887-3510

Revised February 10, 2014

Revised April 6, 2016         


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