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Frederick County and Its Watersheds

Lower Monocacy River Watershed

Upper Monocacy River Watershed

Other Frederick County Watersheds

In 1748 Frederick County was divided from Prince George's County and named after Frederick Calvert. After this initial split, Frederick County was further divided into Washington County (1776), Montgomery County (1776), Allegany County (1789), Carroll County (1837), and Garrett County (1872). Present day Frederick County encompasses approximately 668 square miles or 427,396 acres. In 2003, records show that there were approximately 1,273 farms in the County with roughly 195,827 acres of the 250,484 acres zoned agricultural acres used for farming operations. It is the third fastest growing county in Maryland. According to 2004 census data, the population of Frederick County was 217,653, an increase of 11.5% in the past four years.

There are approximately 1,434 miles of stream in Frederick County. Of these streams, the County has been able to walk and assess the physical conditions of approximately 476 miles (33%) through the Stream Corridor Assessment (SCA). For planning purposes, Frederick County's Watershed Management Section has divided the County into 20 subwatersheds draining either to the Monocacy or Potomac Rivers.

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Since signing the Chesapeake Bay Agreement in 1983, the state of Maryland has worked towards reducing the discharge of nutrients into the Chesapeake Bay by 40%.  In an attempt to achieve this goal, strategies to improve water quality in the tributaries that drain into the Chesapeake Bay are being developed.  Maryland has been divided into major tributary basins in order to target specific watersheds.  These basins include: the Upper Potomac, the Middle Potomac, the Patapsco/Back, Lower Western Shore, the Lower Eastern Shore, the Upper Eastern Shore, and the Choptank.  Frederick County lies within the Upper Potomac River Basin.

The Monocacy River is the largest tributary to the Potomac River, covering approximately 800 square miles of land within the 14,000 square miles of the Potomac’s basin.   75% of the land included in the watershed is located within Maryland and 56% of this land is located within Frederick County.  The headwaters of the Monocacy River form at the Mason-Dixon line as a result of the confluence of Marsh and Rock Creeks in Pennsylvania.

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The Monocacy River Watershed can be further divided into two subwatersheds: the Upper Monocacy and the Lower Monocacy.

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The Lower Monocacy

The Lower Monocacy River watershed covers approximately 194,700 acres of land in three counties: Frederick, Carroll, and Montgomery.  87% of the watershed is encompassed within Frederick County.  The Lower Monocacy River watershed is composed of nine subwatersheds:

  • Upper Linganore Creek
  • Lower Linganore Creek
  • Ballenger Creek
  • Bennett Creek
  • Upper Bush Creek
  • Lower Bush Creek
  • Carroll Creek
  • Monocacy Direct
  • Israel Creek

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Frederick County began receiving Federal grant money from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2003 to develop a Watershed Restoration Action Strategy (WRAS) for Lower Linganore and Bennett Creeks.  The final Lower Monocacy WRAS report was submitted to DNR in June 2004.

Click here for the Lower Monocacy River WRAS Executive Summary (Size: 82 KB)

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The Upper Monocacy

The Upper Monocacy River watershed encompasses approximately 126,107 acres in Frederick County.  It is composed of six subwatersheds:

  • Fishing Creek
  • Glade Creek
  • Hunting Creek
  • Owens Creek
  • Toms Creek
  • Tuscarora Creek

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Frederick County began receiving Federal grant money in July 2004 to develop an Upper Monocacy WRAS, which was completed in June 2005.

Click here for the Upper Monocacy River WRAS Executive Summary (Size: 86 KB)

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Other Watersheds

There are five additional watersheds in Frederick County that are not included in the Upper or Lower Monocacy River Watersheds. These watersheds drain to the Potomac River or the Monocacy outside of Frederick County. One of the watersheds, Little Pipe Creek, is located in the eastern part of the County just northeast of the Lower Monocacy Watershed and is included in the Middle Potomac Watershed. The other four watersheds: Little Catoctin Creek, Catoctin Creek, Middle Creek, and Potomac Direct, are located in the western part of the County in either the Catoctin Creek Watershed or the Potomac River Frederick County Watershed.



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