Water is a critical natural resource that needs to be protected, reused, and kept clean for the health of our community. However, water can also pose threats as weather events become more severe and intense. Greater stormwater management and community support is needed throughout the County to provide resiliency to our neighborhoods and the natural environment, particularly underserved areas and critical habitats. Innovative solutions targeting water control, filtration, and reuse will provide a more sustainable and resilient future for Howard County. 

Stormwater Management

Best Practices

Howard County aims to increase the installation and maintenance of small-scale stormwater management practices, nonstructural techniques, and better site planning to mimic natural hydrologic runoff characteristics, preserve natural features, and minimize the impact of land development on water resources. These best practices may include bioretentions, rain gardens, conservation landscapes, and tree canopy expansion.

At a residential scale the impact may be small when looking at a single example, however widescale adoption of these practices can help reduce stormwater load as the frequency and intensity of rain events increases. On commercial and non-profit properties, opportunities for larger projects can provide for greater treatment, as well as serve to demonstrate projects for the community. 

Stormwater Management

Addressing Equity

Improving infrastructure and adjusting guidelines to incorporate climate change projections, will restore and create new functionality within the stormwater management system and effectively prepare Howard County to withstand increased climate impacts. This will reduce the need for service repairs and the impacts of flooding on homes, business operations, utility infrastructure, and buildings.

Identifying under-resourced neighborhoods within vulnerable watersheds will guide the prioritization of stormwater treatment to impart equity to these areas of our community. Increasing the installation of stormwater best management practices (BMPs) will add resiliency to communities by reducing the impact of stormwater runoff on properties during frequent smaller storms.

Stormwater Management

Leading by Example: Incentive Programs

Howard County provides multiple programs to incentivize stormwater management through all sectors of the built community:

  • CleanScapes, Howard County’s existing residential stormwater incentive program, installs stormwater BMPs in areas that pre-date modern stormwater development regulations.
  • The Commercial Stormwater Partnership Program works with property owners to implement and retrofit stormwater practices while recognizing various financial strategies to make participation realistic.
  • The Nonprofit Watershed Protection Partnership strives to maximize stormwater treatment on nonprofit properties, as well as increase community outreach.
  • The Community Stormwater Partnership Grant Program provides a funding source for Nonprofit Watershed Protection Partners to install stormwater solutions on their properties, as well as provides much needed financial support to HOAs looking to install stormwater practices on shared common space.

Vulnerable Watersheds

Flooding Vulnerabilities

As weather events continue to intensify, Howard County aims to prioritize Vulnerable Watersheds. These are defined as areas within the County subject to flooding both from overflowing streams and from local drainage systems inadequate to convey runoff from large storm events.

Long term sustainability and maintenance of installed projects, included dedicated funding for these efforts, must be carefully considered and planned. Utilizing innovative and nature-based systems to maximize stormwater treatment options in Vulnerable Watersheds will increase co-benefits and resiliency.

What You Can Do

Help Reduce Stormwater Runoff and Protect our Water

Explore these resources to learn more about stormwater pollution and sustainable water management practices.

Help alle­vi­ate the dam­ag­ing effects of stormwa­ter runoff by increas­ing tree cov­er­age through­out the County.
Learn more about stormwater solutions in Howard County.
Learn more about the County's efforts to deal with flooding.