Office of Environmental Policy

Mahogany Tide

Fish kills continue in the tens of thousands in all the rivers surrounding Annapolis. The rust colored water we are experiencing in rivers surrounding Annapolis is caused by a high-density algae bloom (Prorocentrum minimum), known as a mahogany tide. According to the Maryland Department of the Environment, it usually arrives in April and dies off in early-to-mid-May as water temperatures rise, but the cool spring delayed that timeline this year. Instead, the bloom is just now dying off, which causes oxygen depletion as the algae decomposes. In addition to rust-colored water, the mahogony tide causes unpleasant odors, buildups of foam, and fish kills.

If you see fish kills, contact MDE’s Bay environmental hotline so that scientists can investigate: 877-224-7229.

June is World Oceans Month!

World Oceans Day (June 8) and World Oceans Month are aimed at emphasizing the key role the ocean plays in our everyday lives and to inspire action to protect the ocean and sustainability use marine resources.

Let’s all make an extra effort to keep trash and other pollution out of Annapolis waters. Our streams and harbor connect to the Atlantic Ocean via the Chesapeake Bay. Picking up pet waste, responsibly disposing of paint and oil, and reducing our use of fertilizer all help us improve water quality near and far.

City Harbormaster to Suspend Pump-Out Services
During State of Emergency

ANNAPOLIS, MD (March 18, 2020) – City of Annapolis Harbormaster Beth Bellis, in consultation with Annapolis Fire Department and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, has decided to suspend City  pump-out service to boaters after Saturday.

The last pump-outs will occur on Saturday, March 21, 2020. The closure will continue through the City’s declared State of Emergency for COVID-19.

Schedule a pump-out by contacting VHF 17 or calling 410-263-7973.

 it is illegal to discharge untreated waste effluent into Annapolis city waters. 

Last fall, the City, along with Anne Arundel County, petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) to create a No Discharge Zone (NDZ) in all waters in the City and County that originate within its borders. The EPA’s decision whether to approve the petition is likely to come in late spring or early summer. 

The suspension of the Harbormaster pump-out vessel simply means boaters will migrate to self-service stations at land-based marinas. The law requiring pump-outs stays in place. 

Bellis said, “we are making the decision to suspend pump-out operations in the interests of staff safety and public health.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control, it is currently unclear if novel coronavirus COVID-19 can be transmitted through sewerage systems. SARS, a similar coronavirus, has been detected in untreated sewage for up to 2 to 14 days.

Below is a link that lists Annapolis area pump-out stations, including self-service pump outs. Contact the marina directly before you go.

The Office of Environmental Policy is operational during the City’s closure for COVID-19, but the office is closed to the public.


The Office of Environmental Policy is responsible for the protection and enhancement of the natural environment within the City of Annapolis through policies and programs that include, but are not limited to:

  • Environmental Grants
  • Environmental Policy Development and Initiatives
  • Floodplain Management 
  • Land Trusts - Land Conservation
  • Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4)
  • National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES)
  • Public Education and Outreach
  • Sustainability/Resiliency
  • Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Clean Water Act
  • Urban Forestry
  • Watershed Improvement and Stormwater Compliance Coordination

Saturday, April 20
9 a.m. - noon 
Georgetown East Elementary School
111 Dogwood Road Annapolis

Join Annapolis Green, the Severn River Association, Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, Back Creek Conservancy, SPCA of Anne Arundel County, friends and neighbors to help clean up the headwaters of Back Creek. Trash bags, gloves and water provided. No RSVP needed. Just join in.

New Recycling Requirements as of April 1, 2019

The City of Annapolis Office of Environmental Policy received a $15,000 grant award through the Chesapeake Bay Trust to produce a conceptual plan that incorporates green infrastructure practices into historic downtown Annapolis. This area of the City lacks sufficient treatment of stormwater that flows directly into Spa Creek. The City hired local landscape architecture firm Campion Hruby to produce a conceptual plan. The presentation from the first meeting provides a summary of the project including the issues being addressed and potential solutions for Main Street.

Main Street Green Infrastructure Project

View past presentations from the public meetings for Main Street Green Infrastructure held on January 17 and 31 of 2019. The final meeting regarding the conceptual plan was held on February 27, 2019.  

 Final Presentation 

for more information contact

Water Pollution

Water Pollution is defined as the presence of toxic chemicals and biological agents that exceed what is naturally found in the water and may pose a threat to human health and/or the environment. Fish, birds and wildlife depend on clean water sources to survive just as people do.  When it becomes unfit for drinking or recreation, both man-made and natural communities suffer and deteriorate.

Pollution from a variety of sources can contaminate creeks and streams, causing discoloration, odors, or other conditions that are unnatural.  The Office of Environmental Policy (OEP), along with the Department of Public Works (DPW) investigates reported problems to determine if they pose a hazard to human health or the environment.  

Online customers wishing to report a potential water pollution issue may click on the “Report a Problem” icon below to create an account or to continue as a guest to report a problem. Please complete all required fields, and provide any information that will help the City of Annapolis address the issue.  If you would like to report a problem via telephone, please call 410-263-7949 during business hours and after hours please call 410-224-2140.

Bee City USAIn 2016, the City of Annapolis was designated as a Bee City USA affiliate. This was done in partnership with Anne Arundel County and the Town of Highland Beach, Maryland.  All groups involved in this partnership understand the importance of sustaining pollinators, and want the region to become more pollinator-friendly. Bees and other pollinators around the globe have experienced dramatic declines due to a combination of habitat loss, use of pesticides, spread of pests and diseases, and reduced genetic diversity.  Becoming a Bee City USA affiliate publicly announces the City of Annapolis’ intention to promote healthy, sustainable habitats for bees and other pollinators.

Bee City USA is a nonprofit national organization that fosters ongoing dialogue in urban areas to raise awareness of the role pollinators play in sustaining three-quarters of the world’s plant species and what each of us can do to provide them with healthy habitat.

The Bee City USA program endorses a set of commitments, defined in a resolution, for creating sustainable habitats for pollinators, which are vital to feeding the planet.  Learn more about the Bee City USA program.