Lower Patuxent River Subwatershed
The Lower Patuxent subwatershed in Montgomery County consists of the mainstem and tributaries below the Hawlings River. These streams, like most of the Patuxent subwatershed in Montgomery County, drain predominately agricultural and large-lot residential areas.
The mainstem and the lower reaches of the tributaries are largely protected by state park lands and a buffer area owned by the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission to protect its reservoirs. The streams in this area, along with the Hawlings River and Upper Patuxent, are part of the Patuxent River Primary Management Area (PMA).
The PMA is a stream buffer and transition zone within which land uses are closely managed to reduce nonpoint source runoff and nutrient loads, and to improve and protect stream conditions. The ultimate goal for the Primary Management Areas along the Patuxent River and its tributaries is to maintain low-density, low-intensity land uses within 1/4 mile of the mainstem and within 1/8 mile of tributaries, and to actively establish a minimum 50-foot forested buffer strip along all streams.
Streams in the Lower Patuxent tend to exhibit higher levels of impairment than those in the Upper Patuxent. This may be due in part to less forest cover, particularly in upstream reaches.
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