Along with a model ordinance for stream buffers, included on this site are sample stream buffer ordinances from various parts of the country:
Introduction to Buffers
Aquatic Buffers serve as natural boundaries between local waterways and existing development and help protect resources by filtering pollutants, providing flood control, alleviating streambank erosion, mitigating stream warming, and providing room for lateral movement of the stream channel. While there is often overlap between the role of buffers and conservation areas, buffers differ in that they are a specific planning tool to protect stream quality and aquatic habitat. The model ordinance specifies the size and management of the stream buffer.
The model ordinance provided here includes wording that can be used to establish stream buffer zones. Each of the ten sections provides suggested language or technical guidance to create the most effective stream buffer zones possible. Much of the model is based on Baltimore County, Marylands regulations for the protection of water quality, streams, wetlands and floodplains. However, additional features and language have been added in certain sections to enhance the protective functions of the proposed stream buffer.
The language in the sample model ordinance is intended to provide suggestions for possible wording of a communitys own buffer regulation, and is not meant to be adopted verbatim. Modification of the ordinance language will be required in order to address specific local situations and concerns. Coastal and estuarine areas will likely want to include more language dealing with the vegetation unique to their location, as well as important offshore features such as shellfish beds and migratory bird nesting areas that are influenced by nutrient and pollutant runoff. In addition, the establishment of buffer widths may vary depending on region, with areas that receive less rainfall making adjustments to their buffer width sizes. Consideration of political situations within a community may also influence the final choice of buffer width standards, and flexibility in establishing stream buffer zones is important.
While the wording of buffer regulations is flexible, several features were determined to be integral in developing the most effective ordinance possible:
A strong buffer ordinance is only the first step to preserving stream buffers. In addition, communities will need an effective buffer program to manage buffers and enforce buffer regulations. During the construction phase, communities need to ensure that the clearing and grading permit is well-integrated with the forest buffer application. After construction, programs that educate citizens about the importance of the buffer and how to manage it can help preserve the buffers integrity.