.02 Statement of Policy.

A. The General Assembly recognizes that the availability of adequate water supplies is essential to health, safety, and economic welfare. To conserve and protect water resources of the State in the best interest of the people, the Department is authorized to control appropriation or use of surface and ground waters. This control provides for the greatest possible use of waters in the State, while protecting the State's valuable water supply resources from mismanagement, abuse, or overuse. The State's water supply resources include watercourses, lakes, aquifers, tidal areas, and other bodies of water in the State. Private property owners have the right to make reasonable use of the waters of the State which cross or are adjacent to their land. For the benefit of the public, the Department acts as the State's trustee of its water resources.

B. Maryland follows the reasonable use doctrine to determine a person's right to appropriate or use surface or ground water. A ground water appropriation or use permit or a surface water appropriation or use permit issued by the Department authorizes the permittee to make reasonable use of the waters of the State without unreasonable interference with other persons also attempting to make reasonable use of water. The permittee may not unreasonably harm the water resources of the State.