Environmental regulations ensure that all people and the environment in which they live are safe from health hazards. Environmental regulations are usually focused on the following goals: clean air, clean and safe water, safe food, pollution and health risks to people and wildlife.
The City of Rockville, like most governments, enforces regulations designed to preserve environmental and human health. In addition, the City’s own activities are regulated by state and federal environmental laws.
Below is a list of guidelines and ordinances that the City enforces, as well as laws the City is required to follow.
Water Quality Protection Ordinance
On July 16, 2007, the Mayor and Council adopted a Water Quality Protection Ordinance. The Ordinance has the following objectives:
- Protecting surface and ground waters within the City
- Prolonging the useful life of the City's storm drains and sanitary sewers
- Safeguarding the City employees working in the storm drains and sanitary sewers
- Ensuring that the City remains in compliance with its Clean Water Act requirements
These objectives were met by creating a series of "prohibited discharges," items/substances like oil that cannot be put in the storm drain, establishing a duty to report and cleanup these discharges, and clarifying the City's ability to conduct inspections and enforce the ordinance.
Forest and Tree Preservation Ordinance
Last amended on 2009, the Forest and Tree Preservation Ordinance has the following objectives:
- Encourage the preservation and enhancement of Rockville’s urban forest
- Replace tree cover in non-forest areas within the City
- Establish procedures, standards and requirements for afforestation, or the planting of open areas that are not presently covered by forest, and reforestation within the City
- Meet the requirements of the Natural Resource Article, Section 5-1601 through 5-1613 of the Annotated Code of Maryland. This Article requires Maryland municipalities to adopt the State's Forest Conservation Law or adopt their own law. It contains many of the same requirements as Rockville’s Forest and Tree Preservation Ordinance. However, City law has stiffer penalties for clearing trees and forest. Local ordinances must be at least as strict as the state law.
Chapter 19, Sediment Control and Stormwater Management
Under Maryland law, local jurisdictions must have ordinances regulating pollution from stormwater and sediment washing off of construction sites. For more information on state requirements and stormwater management in general, please visit the Maryland Department of Environment or see Title 26 of the Code of Maryland Regulations. Chapter 19 of the Rockville City Code and Use Regulations, Sediment and Stormwater Management Regulations ERRATA and Sediment Control and Stormwater Managemetn Regulations requires development to implement Environmental Site Design to the maximum extent practicable. For more information about obtaining a Stormwater Management Permit for development, please call the Department of Public Works, Engineering Division, at 240-314-8500. Chapter 19 requires owners of private stormwater management systems to periodically perform maintenance to assure the system's functionality. For more information on stormwater system maintenance, please call Steve Davis at 240-314-8875.
In addition, Chapter 19 requires construction site operators to prevent sediment from leaving their site by constructing and maintaining sediment control best management practices (BMPs). Any person considering work involving grading, clearing or construction should call the Department of of Public Works at 240-314-8500 to determine if a Sediment Control Permit is required.
See a problem? If you observe any issues involving stormwater or sediment pollution, please report it to the Environmental Management Division at 240-314-8870 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Commercial and Multi-Family Recycling Requirements
Rockville has incorporated Montgomery County's existing "Smart Organization Reduce & Reuse Tons" (SORRT) and "Think Reduce and Recycle at Apartments and Condominiums" (TRRAC) programs into the City’s Code. The County programs require multi-family dwellings with seven or more units in a building and all commercial entities regardless of size to collect and recycle at least 50 percent of their solid waste by weight or volume. Larger businesses (those with 100 or more employees) and multi-family dwellings (those with 101 units or more) also will be required to prepare a recycling plan and report annually to the county.
Green Building Ordinance
On May 10, 2010, the Mayor and council adopted comprehensive amendments to Chapter 5 of the City Code, "Building and Building Regulations." This includes a new article, Article XIV, titled, "Green Building Regulations," that improves the efficiency and environmental quality of buildings and homes. The ordinance is effective July 1, 2010. The ordinance affects new or substantially renovated commercial and residential properties. It is designed to ensure energy efficiency and create buildings that are environmentally sustainable.
Building Codes and Green Building Regulation
Rockville's Comprehensive Master Plan
The Mayor and Council adopted a Comprehensive Master Plan for the City on Nov. 12, 2002. The master plan outlines a broad vision for Rockville's future growth and directs all development activities. Chapter 5 of the master plan is titled "The Environment - Sensitive Areas and Critical Issues," and describes policies and recommendations for the integration of environmental protection in all public and private development and land use decisions. Rockville expects to make further revisions to the master plan by the end of 2010.
Comprehensive Master Plan
Chapter 5 of the Master Plan: The Environment (pdf)
Adopted in July 1999, the Environmental Guidelines provide guidance during the development review process to address environmental concerns, ensure a comprehensive program for watershed and other natural resource protection, and establish a consistent level of environmental protection through adherence to performance standards.
Environmental Guidelines (pdf)
As authorized by the Clean Water Act, the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program controls water pollution by regulating point sources that discharge pollutants into waters of the United States. NPDES was created to control water pollution from commercial and industrial facilities, municipalities, wastewater treatment plants and construction sites. The City of Rockville has four NPDES permits. These permits generally last for five years. After their five-year cycle, they are renewed and the public has an opportunity to comment on them.
1. Phase II Small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit.
The permit requires a variety of activities in the following six areas:
- Public Education on Stormwater Impacts
- Public Involvement and Participation
- Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination
- Construction Site Stormwater Runoff Control
- Post-Construction Stormwater Management
- Pollution Prevention and Good Housekeeping for Municipal Operations
2. Industrial Stormwater General Permit
The Industrial Stormwater General Permit controls discharges from the Gude Maintenance Facility and RedGate Golf Course. This permit defines the City's obligations under federal and state water pollution laws, in order to minimize or eliminate the release of pollutants from the permitted facilities.
The permit directs the discharger to develop a storm water pollution prevention plan and implement it in order to prevent pollutants from entering the stormwater rather than using treatment to remove pollutants. Major components of the plan are to:
- Assess the site to determine routes and areas of drainage, locate unpermitted non-stormwater discharges and identify potential sources of pollutants;
- Take measures to control these sources, such as housekeeping, process changes, routine inspections or containments; Assign responsible individuals to continually oversee storm water protection efforts; and
- Perform annual reevaluations of the adequacy of the plan.
3. Hydrostatic Testing General Permit
The Hydrostatic Testing General Permit controls:
- Wastewater discharges from flushing, disinfection or hydrostatic testing of pipes and pipelines (including sewers and drinking water lines)
- Discharges from potable water systems resulting from overflows, flushing, disinfection, hydrostatic testing, cleaning or dewatering of tanks, vessels or structures used to store or convey potable water.
4. Swimming Pool General Permit
The Swimming Pool General Permit governs discharges from the Rockville Swim and Fitness Center pools into tributaries of Watts Branch.
Rockville’s Drinking Water Plant is regulated by state and federal safe drinking water requirements that:
- Establish drinking water quality standards set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE)
- Impose strict testing procedures and monthly reporting obligations
- Require best management practices for water plant operations
- Require the preparation of an annual Drinking Water Quality Report for water customers.
The City is subject to other requirements covering items such as waste handling and clean air. For most other requirements, the City is not required to perform additional compliance activities.