Community groups and local governments across Maryland have been awarded Watershed Assistance Grants totaling approximately $1.43 million to carry out local water quality improvement projects. In total, 15 different counties and Baltimore City were selected to receive funding.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Maryland Department of the Environment and Chesapeake Bay Trust partnered to select the 27 most effective design and watershed planning proposals to receive funding. As part of the grant award, local groups and governments will receive expert planning and technical assistance.

“The grant program is unique in that it provides local communities first-step design assistance to turn their inspirational ideas into successful and practical water quality improvement projects,” Natural Resources Secretary Mark Belton said. “The department is very fortunate to have a wealth of knowledge and assistance from scientists and technical experts across the state to help our communities meet the goals of their watershed action plans and the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement.”

Open to community organizations, faith-based groups, local governments and nonprofits, the Watershed Assistance Grant program was developed to harness the power of citizen stewards to help improve water quality in the Chesapeake Bay watershed and Coastal Bays. Examples of projects chosen include the creation of living shoreline and marsh habitat, watershed action plans, rain gardens and large scale reforestation areas.

Established by the Watershed Assistance Collaborative, the program has funded the design and planning for 116 projects in Maryland, totaling approximately $4.4 million to date. The collaborative is a partnership among Maryland’s state agencies, the Chesapeake Bay Trust, Environmental Protection Agency, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the University of Maryland’s Sea Grant Extension Program and Environmental Finance Center.