The new Howard County Green Infrastructure Network Plan is now available by clicking HERE. To learn more about Howard County's Green Infrastructure Network click HERE.
Check out the new Green Central Station, Howard County's depot for all things green! Explore the different "tracks" of information available and help us make Howard County greener, healthier, and a true sustainable community.
The Baltimore Metropolitan Council, (BMC) which includes representatives from local governments, conducts regional planning efforts to address air quality, working with the State air quality goals and regulations.
The Transportation Division in the Department of Planning and Zoning coordinates air quality planning efforts with BMC.
Alpha Ridge Landfill
The Bureau of Environmental Services within the Department of Public Works oversees the Alpha Ridge Landfill. Alpha Ridge is open for both residential and commercial customers of Howard County to dispose of recyclables, household hazardous wastes, and trash.
The Maryland Department of the Environment provides information and guidance for Brownfield development, including the Voluntary Cleanup Program which helps streamline the cleanup process for eligible sites.
Information on Agricultural Land Preservation Easements is available through the Howard County Agricultural Land Preservation Program.
Environmental Sustainability Board
The Environmental Sustainability Board guides the County Executive and staff in creating the best possible environmental quality for the people of Howard County.
Floodplain and Flood Protection
The Stormwater Management Division within the Bureau of Environmental Services in the Department of Public Works manages floodplains and flood protection measures. The Division maintains resident warning systems during storm and flood events, as well as hazard maps, flood safety and insurance guidance.
Forest Conservation Program | Violations: Daniel McNamara 410-313-4725
Forms and Applications
The Land Development Division within the Department of Planning and Zoning manages the Forest Conservation Program, in coordination with several other departments within the County. The Forest Conservation Manual provides guidance for implementing the program and explains the details of the Forest Conservation Act, basic program concepts, forest retention, planting and maintenance techniques, and procedures to be followed for development. Staff is currently working to update this manual.
What is Howard County’s Forest Conservation Program?
This video provides an overview of Howard County’s Forest Conservation Program. The purpose and goal of the program is to protect and preserve forest in Howard County by promoting environmentally sensitive design during the subdivision and land development process. The video stresses the importance of educating the community residents about the forest program to ensure the long term protection, preservation and maintenance of our forest resources in the County.
How You Can Help Protect Our Forest Resources
The primary purpose of this video is to help educate the public about the need to avoid certain activities that may destroy or degrade protected forest resources located in their community. Some of the permitted and non-permitted uses within forest conservation easements are highlighted in this video. The video asks for the community’s help in our mission as the guardians of the public’s trust in protecting the County’s valuable forest resources for future generations.
Educational Guides for Forest Conservation Areas Located:
- On Private Lots
- Within Puble Easements, HOA or County Owned Open Space, or Preservation Parcels
Green Buildings and Neighborhoods
Green building techniques use environmentally sustainable materials to construct buildings that conserve resources and provide healthy living or working spaces. A variety of tax credits, grant programs, and financial incentives are available. Green Neighborhoods is a voluntary program encouraging development that conserves and protects natural resources, while providing sustainable communities that are energy and water efficient.
GreenFest 2015 “Living with Wildlife," will be held Saturday, April 18th, 2015 from 10:00am - 4:00pm at the Howard Community College Burrill Galleria. Please visit www.hcgreenfest.org for details. The last seven years have been a huge success and this year will be even better. Thank you to all of our vendors, volunteers, and GreenFest visitors for making this event such a success every year. See you at GreenFest 2015!
The Maryland Department of the Environment oversees groundwater issues in Maryland. The US Geological Survey also conducts studies on the quantity, quality, distribution, and movement of groundwater in Maryland.
Invasive plants can quickly change a landscape and eliminate essential habitat for many species. Invasive plant species appear in the region as people unknowingly purchase them at nurseries, transplant them from other areas, or as animals and wind relocate the seeds. These plants typically spread quickly and choke out native plants, even large established trees. Their use is not encouraged in landscape plantings.
Landscaping and Native Plants
The use of native plants in landscaping, also known as “Bayscaping” or “xeriscaping”, is important within the region to minimize the use of fertilizers, pesticides, and invasives. Native plants require little or no additional watering or fertilizing, once established, and can aid in soil retention, erosion control, and water filtration. Also, native plants provide valuable habitat for many native insect, bird, and mammal species in the region, as well as migrating species.
Recreation & Parks
The Howard County Department of Recreation and Parks promotes opportunities for all residents to pursue safe and enjoyable leisure activities in balance with the protection and conservation of natural resources.
The Bureau of Environmental Services, within the Department of Public Works, oversees the County's recycling program.
Reservoirs and Drinking Water Supply
Howard County works cooperatively with Montgomery and Prince George's Counties, Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, Howard Soil Conservation District, and Montgomery Soil Conservation District to protect the natural resources within the Patuxent Reservoirs watershed.
The Baltimore City Reservoirs are a major drinking water supply source for the Baltimore region and the primary source of water for the public water supply system in Howard County.
Rivers and Watersheds
Howard County lies within the watersheds of two major tributaries to the Chesapeake Bay, the Patuxent and Patapsco Rivers. Watershed-based planning provides the framework to coordinate environmental planning for these natural resources. The Major Watershed Map shows the nine major watersheds in the County.
The Stormwater Management Division within the Department of Public Works Bureau of Environmental Services conducts biological water quality monitoring and stream corridor assessment surveys in all of the major County watersheds.
The County developed a Watershed Restoration Action Strategy (WRAS) for the Little Patuxent River in 2002 and for the Lower Patapsco River in 2006. The WRAS is intended to be a work plan to restore and protect water quality and habitat, and address the needs for environmental outreach and education within the watershed. Subwatershed studies were conducted as part of each WRAS to provide more detailed restoration assessments for the Sucker Branch and Rockburn Branch subwatersheds and the Wilde Lake and Centennial Lake subwatersheds.
Sediment and Erosion Control
Sediment and erosion control measures are generally required for any clearing or grading of 5,000 square feet or more. Grading permits are issued by the Department of Inspections, Licenses and Permits. For additional information, see the Department of Inspections, Licenses and Permits and Howard Soil Conservation District.
The Construction Inspection Division within the Department of Public Works Bureau of Engineering conducts construction site inspections for compliance with grading permit requirements. To report violations, please call 410-313-1855.
Information about soils in Howard County can be found in the Soil Survey of Howard County, Maryland (U.S. Department of Agriculture Soil Conservation Service in Cooperation with Maryland Agricultural Experiment Station, 1968). Additional information can be found through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Soils.
The Development Engineering Division (DED) in the Department of Planning and Zoning reviews and approves the design of new stormwater management structures. DED also provides checklists and design information.
The Stormwater Management Division in the Department of Public Works Bureau of Environmental Services inspects existing stormwater management systems to ensure proper function.
The Little Patuxent Water Reclamation Plant is one of two wastewater treatment plants serving Howard County. The plant is managed by the Bureau of Utilities in the Department of Public Works.
The Patapsco Wastewater Treatment Plant also serves Howard County and is managed by the Baltimore City Department of Public Works Bureau of Water and Wastewater.
Water Conservation and Pollution
The Howard County Water Resources Element (WRE) is an amendment to General Plan 2000 that adds Policies and Actions intended to ensure the County has a safe and adequate supply of drinking water, and adequate land and water capacity for the treatment of wastewater and stormwater. By vote of the County Council and signature of the County Executive, the WRE Amendment was approved on April 7, 2010 and became effective on June 8, 2010.
Rain gardens and rain barrels are an excellent way to manage stormwater in small amounts. Rain barrels collect and store water runoff from roof downspouts to be reused as needed for landscape watering, car washing, etc.
Rain gardens are low lying areas created to hold and filter runoff from roofs, driveways and parking lots. Rain gardens are planted with native plants adapted for high levels of water, which help to hold the runoff and filter pollutants while the runoff slowly soaks into the ground.
The Stormwater Management Division in the Department of Public Works Bureau of Environmental Services operates an Illicit Discharge Program that addresses pollutant discharges into the County storm drain system. To report in-stream water pollution problems, contact the Maryland Department of the Environment.
Well and Septic Systems
The proper installation and repair of all drinking water wells and on-site sewage disposal systems is the responsibility of the Health Department Bureau of Environmental Health.