The land use of Rock Creek watershed is mixed, ranging from commercial to industrial and residential.
The upper section of Rock Creek watershed remain relatively undeveloped and encompass rolling hills and farmlands, although homes and businesses have been constructed in the area. The undeveloped nature of the watershed is a result of Montgomery County initiatives to acquire valley parkland buffers along upper Rock Creek, with the goal of resource conservation. Upper Rock Creek is now classified as a Special Protection Area (SPA). This designation, which set limitation on new area development, requires sediment and erosion control as well as the implementation of stormwater management techniques to provide additional water quality protection.
Situated near or within the District of Columbia, lower Rock Creek is highly developed and densely populated. More than 500,000 people live within the city’s boundaries and have access to the lower section of the Rock Creek watershed. Prior development in the area resulted in the construction of homes too close to the stream, which has negatively impacted aquatic and stream systems. Much of this development was undertaken in the 1960s, which resulted in the little to no stormwater management. Aging sewer lines and roadways, which account for 8% of the watershed, are in need of repair.