What is the Greater Baltimore Survey

How the Survey Works

Citizens Win Astounding 61% Improvement! 

Stormwater BMP Survey

Survey Guidance Documents

Past Survey Reports:

2014 Construction Site Report
2015 Construction Site Report
2016 Stormwater BMP Survey Report







Participating Groups

1000 Friends of Maryland

Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay

Baltimore Harbor Waterkeeper

Bird River Restoration Campaign

Blue Water Baltimore

Community & Environmental Defense Services

Center for Progressive Reform

Chesapeake Bay Foundation

Chesapeake Legal Alliance

Friends of Harford

Gunpowder RiverKeeper

Howard County Citizens Association

Howard County Sierra Club

Magothy River Association

Maryland Bass Federation Nation

North County Preservation

Severn River Association



CEDS logo


Greater Baltimore Survey

Click Here to Participate in the 2017 Survey

greater baltimoreThe Greater Baltimore Region includes Baltimore City and the counties of Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Harford and Howard.  The purpose of the Greater Baltimore Survey is to accelerate the restoration of the region's 2,000 miles of waterway to a condition of Child Safe & Friendly.  All homes in the region are within a five-minute walk of our 4,000 miles of streams, rivers and tidal waters.  While most of these waters are small, headwater streams even these can provide a great place for summertime play.  But the waters nearest 70% of the region's homes are unfit due to runoff pollution, sewerline leaks, quicksandlike deposits of eroded soil, hazardous debris, etc. 

What Is The Greater Baltimore Survey? 

The Greater Baltimore Survey focuses on the three clean water laws which are most important to making all waters Child Safe & Friendly:


How the Survey Works

volunteers assessing construction siteThe Greater Baltimore Survey is carried out by volunteers and staff from the organizations listed in the column to the right.  The survey is conducted by teams of three to four who assess clean water law compliance by viewing construction sites or stormwater BMPs from adjoining, public areas (no trespass required).  The volunteers acquire the ability to accurately assess compliance through brief training based on various guidance documents.  Surveys are conducted in half-day increments on weekdays and weekends in one of the six survey jurisdictions (Baltimore City or the five surrounding counties).  To become a survey volunteer go to: Participate in the 2017 Survey


Citizens Win Astounding 61% Improvement! 

The first Greater Baltimore Survey was carried out in June, 2014.  The second was completed June, 2015 and showed an astounding 61% improvement in the quality of construction site erosion control.  The groups participating in the Greater Baltimore Survey believe this dramatic increase was attributable to the public attention and support generated by the first 2014 Survey.

2015 results graph 

To see the two reports click on the following:


Stormwater BMP Survey

volunteers assessing stormwater bmpThe purpose of the Greater Baltimore Stormwater BMP Survey is to assess the condition of the nearly 20,000 ponds, filters and other Best Management Practices (BMPs).  These BMPs could be keeping a tremendous amount of pollution out of our neighborhood waters. Past surveys in some parts of our region indicated that up to half of these BMPs have failed due to lack of maintenance.

The graph below shows the condition of the 339 BMPs assessed by 42 volunteers from the 17 participating groups.  Regionwide, 42% of the BMPs were in good condition, 25% were failing and the remaining 33% were still providing aquatic resource protection but needed maintenance to prevent failure.  For further detail see the report.

bmp condition

To see the location of the BMPs evaluated during the 2016 survey, along with a photo of each and condition, click: Stormwater BMP Map.

Our goal is to keep neighborhood waters Child Safe & Friendly.  There are few homes in the Greater Baltimore region which are more than a five-minute walk from the nearest waterway. While these nearest waters may be a small, headwater stream they offer the potential for a great place where neighborhood children can play on hot summer afternoons. Unfortunately, the waters nearest the vast majority of the region’s 2.7 million residents are unfit for our children and us adults.


We Are The Pollution Source

The reason most neighborhood waters are Child Unsafe & Unfriendly is all of the pollution they receive. This pollution comes from industrial smokestacks, our cars, our pets, our littering, our lawn care practices and other sources. The pollution from these sources settles on our rooftops, our streets, sidewalks and parking lots then washes into neighborhood waters with each rain. Human waste from leaking sewerlines adds to the problem. 


We’re Also The Solution

Here’s the good news. Past efforts like the Greater Baltimore Stormwater BMP Survey have won dramatic improvements in pollution prevention efforts. The problem with neighborhood water pollution is that it’s pretty much invisible. The typical suburban-urban stream looks pretty good during dry-weather. The water is clear and odorless; it’s also mostly lifeless.

Streams within our older suburbs and cities receive such intense pollution that few fish and other critters can live. But most of us don’t recognize these signs of trouble. Since the public does not know a problem exists its easy to divert funds from BMP maintenance to other, more visible uses like police and schools. The trouble is a lack of balance.

Just as no one would want school funding reduced to where our children receive a poor education, few of us would opt to reduce BMP maintenance to the point where our neighborhood waters become a threat to our children. And since we cannot keep our kids from playing in these waters, we have but one choice - restore each to a Child Safe & Friendly condition. And this begins by finding out how well local BMPs are being maintained, hence the Greater Baltimore Survey.


Survey Guidance Documents

Construction Sites:


Environmental Site Design:


Watershed Audits:



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