Protecting and Improving Estuaries with Smart Growth Tools
Maryland Coastal Bays Program
July 2008 FINAL
  Part of the National Estuary
  Program since 1995, the
  Maryland Coastal Bays Program
  provides leadership and
  coordination to restore and
  maintain the water quality and
  ecological integrity of small,
  shallow Maryland bays,
  including Assawoman Bay, Isle
  of Wight Bay, Chincoteague
  Bay, Sinepuxent Bay, and
  Newport Bay.
  The National Estuary Program
  (NEP) was established under
  the 1987 Clean Water Act
  Amendments. It is a unique
  voluntary program that
  operates through partnerships
  with EPA and other public and
  private sector entities.  Each
  NEP uses an inclusive,
  collaborative decision-making
  process to deliver on-the-
  ground results, making the NEP
  a leading model of watershed
Why Is Smart Growth Important For Estuary Protection
And Improvement?

Nationally, runoff is the second most common source of water pollution for estuaries.
Runoff from developed areas often contains nutrients, pathogens, and metals.
Cumulative impacts from conventional development ~ including increased stormwater
volume and flow rates - lead to erosion, estuary degradation, and habitat destruction.
Conventional stormwater management practices address peak flows and suspended
solids, but are only partially effective in managing cumulative impacts. Compact
development paired with preservation of critical natural areas can help protect estuaries
by (1) using land more efficiently, (2) reducing the amount of impervious surface per
capita, and (3) allowing open lands to filter rainwater naturally, thus recharging local
groundwater aquifers and supporting improved hydrologic function.

How Did The Maryland Coastal Bays Program  Use Smart Growth To
Protect Their Estuaries?

The Maryland Coastal Bays Program (MCBP) protects and enhances the estuaries,
classified as coastal lagoons, in Worcester County, Maryland.  Tidal exchange here is
limited, taking place mainly in small channels around nearby barrier islands.  While the
coastal bays receive drainage from only 175 square miles  of land, this limited tidal
exchange significantly increases the impacts of nutrient runoff from agricultural and
urban sources.
Historically a rural and
agricultural area, tourism
and development have
become integral parts of
Worcester County's
economy. In fact, in
terms of employment,
tourism is now the
county's second largest
industry. Recognizing
that development is
essential to the county's
economy, yet can be a
major driver of estuary
degradation, the MCBP
established a framework
for addressing these
issues in its 1999
Conservation and
Management Plan
                              In 2001, when the Worcester County Planning Commission voted to update the
                              county's comprehensive plan, the MCBP seized the opportunity to incorporate
                              environmentally responsible development principles in the new plan. First developed
                              in 1989, Worcester County's comprehensive plan is the basis for all of the county
                              planning commission's decisions about zoning and land use.

In 2004, the MCBP began using EPA grant funding to bring together builders, architects, engineers, and other key
stakeholders to help develop revised planning and zoning laws for the county. This collaborative process culminated in
                               2006 in a revised comprehensive plan for Worcester County. The plan protects the
                               county's distinctive character and its estuaries, by (1) directing development to existing
                               communities and to the marginal agricultural lands adjacent to them, (2) directing
                               development away from highly productive agricultural lands, and (3) directing
                               development away from sensitive natural areas such as floodplains, forests,
                               groundwater recharge areas, and sensitive species habitat.
Principles of Smart Growth

 Create Range of Housing
  Opportunities and Choices
   Create Walkable

   Encourage Community and
   Stakeholder Collaboration

   Foster Distinctive, Attractive
   Communities with a Strong
   Sense of Place

   Make Development
   Decisions Predictable, Fair
   and Cost Effective

   Mix Land Uses

   Preserve Open Space,
   Farmland, Natural Beauty and
   Critical Environmental Areas

   Provide a Variety of
   Transportation Choices

   Strengthen and Direct
   Development Towards
   Existing Communities

   Take Advantage of Compact
   Building Design
  For Additional Information:

  Maryland Coastal Bays Program

 Smart Growth Online
  US EPA Office of Wetlands,
  Oceans, and Watersheds
  Coastal Management Branch
                              How Did Smart Growth Tools Help MCBP Achieve Its Goals?

                              The MCBP recognized that it was essential to help create a collaborative vision for
                              development and estuary protection in Worcester County.  To achieve this goal, the
                              MCBP used visioning exercises and meetings to establish common ground. The MCBP
                              actively encouraged collaboration among stakeholders with opposing viewpoints. As
                              part of a $20,000 public education campaign, the MCBP also published a series of
                              newsletters and a comprehensive planning guide to educate the public about the
                              benefits of incorporating smart growth elements into the comprehensive plan.

                              To better protect the county's rural character, the MCBP helped to improve agricultural
                              zoning. Agricultural lands comprise
                              80 percent of the  county. The
                              MCBP advocated zoning which
                              directed growth towards lower
                              quality agricultural lands adjacent to
                              existing towns and infrastructure,
                              and away from environmentally
                              sensitive areas. These changes will
                              protect the open space for which the
                              county is known - and that draws a
                              substantial tourist trade - while
                              allowing sufficient development to
                              accommodate the 18,000 additional
                              residents expected by 2015.  The
                              development will have the
                              additional benefit of providing
                              affordable work-force housing near
                              expected employment centers.
  Prime Farmland,
  Worcester County,
 Coastal Bays waiersJieds
| Prime Agricultural Soil
                              How Can Other NEPs Learn From The MCBP Experience?

                              When Worcester County initiated its comprehensive plan revision, the MCBP saw and
                              seized an opportunity to both protect the estuaries and protect the county's quality of
                              life.  Other NEPs can look for similar opportunities by asking themselves these

                                Are any of your counties planning to update their comprehensive plans and/or land
                                 use ordinances?
  US EPA Smart Growth
  Development, Community, and
  Environment Division (DCED)
  Phone: 202-566-2878
                                 Is your area undergoing new growth that you could use as an opportunity to open a
                                 dialogue about how smart growth can protect your estuary?

                                 Can you participate in a quarterly, annual, or biannual planning process and help
                                 educate local government officials about the connection between smart growth and
                                 estuary protection?