Montgomery County is home to more than 1,500 miles of streams that provide habitat for diverse aquatic life and wildlife. A healthy stream provides recreational and aesthetic benefits for residents, contributes to clean drinking water and protects the Chesapeake Bay.
Stream quality is greatly affected by the land uses and development activities that occur in their watersheds.In 1994, the County Council established a program to protect water quality in areas where streams, wetlands, and related natural features are of very high quality and worthy of special protection.
The county’s Special Protection Areas (SPA) require protections beyond standard environmental laws, regulations, and guidelines for land development and certain uses. The Planning Board through its regulatory function, the Department of Permitting Services, and the Department of Environmental Protection enforce SPA rules.
Use our interactive map to pinpoint an address in or near an SPA.
The SPA law calls for stringent water resource protection measures in new and expanded development projects. It does not apply to properties with existing residences or other legally existing land uses if such uses are not changing. Environmental overlay zones, which set limits on impervious surfaces, apply in the Upper Paint Branch Upper Rock Creek and Ten Mile Creek SPAs.
Activities and projects subject to SPA regulations and guidelines:
Even if the SPA regulations and guidelines do not apply to your property, you can still play an important role in preserving the health of streams and the natural features of the SPA watershed.