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Stream Restoration

Waterway Improvement Program
Phone: 410-887-2904
Fax: 410-887-4804

Land use changes including urbanization have interrupted the natural, beneficial processes of stream systems. These changes impair the ecological function of Baltimore County’s waterways and ultimately the Chesapeake Bay.

Stream Problems Due to Urbanization




Increased impervious area

Pavement, roofs and other structures resulting from development

Increased volume or velocity during storms; decreased base flow

Lack of riparian buffer

Floodplain encroachment to maximize development

Destabilization of stream banks or bed leading to erosion, increased water temps and loss of habitat

Piping, channelization, and armoring of streams

Rerouting or removal of open streams to maximize development

Loss of groundwater recharge, habitat, pollutant removal, and increase in storm flows

Infrastructure encroachment within floodplains

Road crossings, storm drain connections

Flooding and damage to public and private property

Increased pollutant and sediment loads

Yard chemical and agricultural treatments, oil spills, trash, sediment erosion

Impaired water quality and aquatic habitat

Baltimore County has a nationally recognized program for implementing stream restoration and stabilization projects. The goal is to improve water quality and ecological function by:

  • Stabilizing stream banks to reduce sediment input to receiving waters
  • Creating appropriate bed features (riffles, pools) to provide important biochemical exchanges, habitat and energy dissipation
  • Creating or enhancing the vegetative buffer to reduce nutrient pollution and provide habitat
  • Sustaining long-term, natural function by replacing traditional engineered channels which negatively impact ecological function and require periodic maintenance or replacement

Adaptive Approach

Capital Projects and Operations (CPO) are selected based on a systematic assessment of the severity of degradation, the achievable goals for each site and the overall benefit to the watershed. CPO utilizes watershed plans, technical assessments and a stream complaint database to identify and prioritize potential projects. CPO incorporates a Natural Channel Design approach when implementing projects which entails:

  • Calculating the appropriate channel dimensions to maintain base flow, manage storm flows, and have appropriate sediment movement
  • Creating appropriate bed features and plan form (shape of the channel within the stream valley) to maintain long term stability
  • Using natural, native materials such as rock, logs and plants to recreate a stable, functional stream system


Baltimore County strives to ensure that the projects consists of restored, ecologically functional, self-maintaining and aesthetically pleasing stream systems. CPO conducts monitoring of restoration sites to ensure that the project is performing according to design intent.

Revised May 27, 2016         


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