Sector verification guidance


Bay Program-approved agricultural BMPs represent the largest and most diverse group of conservation practices and land use conversions across all sectors. The diversity of BMPs reflects the diversity of agricultural production and land uses across the Bay watershed. To address the challenge of providing verification guidance for this diverse collection of BMPs in a simple format, agricultural BMPs are organized into three categories: a) Visual Assessment BMPs- Single-Year; b) Visual Assessment BMPs- Multi-Year; c) Non-Visual Assessment BMPs. The three BMP categories are primarily based on the assessment method for their physical presence, as well as on the respective life spans or permanence on the landscape.


The five forestry BMPs for which verification guidance is presented are: a) agricultural riparian forest buffers; b) agricultural tree planting; c) expanded tree canopy; d) urban riparian forest buffers; and e) forest harvesting BMPs. Four of the five forestry BMPs covered by this guidance are types of tree planting designed to improve environmental and water quality conditions in currently non-forested areas, including tree plantings in riparian areas.

Urban Stormwater

The Bay Program’s Urban Stormwater Workgroup devoted the past several years to developing guidance on urban BMP verification. This verification guidance represents a synthesis of the consensus reached by the Workgroup on the challenge of providing verification guidance for this collection of BMPs. The guidance has been divided into four major categories: a) BMPs located in MS4 areas; b) BMPs located in non-MS4 areas; c) Non-regulatory BMPs; and d) Legacy BMPs.

The Urban Stormwater workgroup updated their verification guidance in 2019.


As a part of its role within the Bay Program partnership, the Wastewater Treatment Workgroup was charged with addressing BMP verification guidance for wastewater treatment facilities, combined sewer overflow (CSO) areas and advanced on-site treatment systems. The existing national and state regulatory systems for wastewater treatment facilities and CSOs meet or exceed the Bay Program partners’ BMP verification principles through a rigorous system of permits, inspections and monitoring requirements that ensure accountability, proper design, implementation, operation and maintenance. For on-site treatment systems, the Workgroup’s recommended verification guidance is based on the best existing regulations and programs. Verification through existing regulatory programs will confirm if the upgraded wastewater facilities, CSOs or on-site treatment systems are designed, installed and maintained over time and meeting their assigned load reduction targets.


Restoration, creation and enhancement of wetlands provides a range of benefits for wildlife, fish, and other aquatic species. Wetlands also filter nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment from overland flow, thereby providing quantifiable water quality benefits. As such, wetland restoration and creation are recognized best management practices in the Bay Program’s Watershed Model. Developed by the Bay Program’s Wetlands Workgroup, the guidance for verifying wetland projects is focused on ensuring their pollutant removal performance is appropriately credited toward watershed jurisdictions’ two-year milestone commitments and their Watershed Implementation Plans. Though defined differently, wetland restoration, creation and enhancement projects will all undergo similar verification processes.

Stream Restoration

The Center for Watershed Protection, in their role as the Bay Program’s Sediment Reduction and Stream Corridor Restoration Coordinator, developed BMP verification guidance with input from the Bay Program’s Habitat Goal Implementation Team. The guidance is adapted from the 2013 Urban Stormwater Workgroup Memo, Final Recommended Principles and Protocols for Urban Stormwater BMP Verification (and Recommendations of the Expert Panel to Define Removal Rates for Individual Stream Restoration Projects. Additional guidance for stream restoration projects, specific to riparian wetlands, is available in the Wetlands verification guidance.