BALTIMORE, MD (April 27, 2012) – The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) proposed a new regulation today to require nitrogen-removal technology for all septic systems serving new construction on land draining to the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Coastal Bays or in other areas where bodies of water are impaired by nitrogen. Existing regulations require nitrogen removal technology for all new and replacement septic systems in the Critical Area.
“Since 2008, we have spent more than $40 million to retrofit thousands of septic systems in Maryland, but this investment has been completely negated by new septic system installations. Septic systems are one of the few sources for which nitrogen pollution continues to increase,” said MDE Secretary Robert M. Summers. “Thanks to the leadership of Governor O’Malley and the Maryland General Assembly, we made great progress during the 2012 legislative session toward limiting the impact of septic system development on Maryland’s waters, farmlands and forests. By requiring technology that reduces nitrogen discharges by half or more on more new septic systems, we are one step closer toward reaching our goal of a restored and healthy Chesapeake Bay."
Under the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL), Maryland must reduce the nutrients nitrogen and phosphorus, along with sediments, in order to reach water quality standards by 2025. Maryland’s Phase II Watershed Implementation Plan, the action plan for achieving this goal, was submitted to the EPA on March 30, 2012.
This proposed regulation was a recommendation of the Task Force on Sustainable Growth and Wastewater Disposal. It supports, enhances and reinforces the Sustainable Growth and Agricultural Preservation Act of 2012, which will be signed into law on Wednesday, May 2.
The proposed regulation has been submitted for approval to the Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive and Legislative Review (AELR). It also establishes minimum operation and maintenance requirements for the life of the upgraded technology to ensure that these septic systems do not fall into disrepair and damage the environment. Companies who either install and/or maintain the nitrogen-removing technologies will have to complete a course of study approved by MDE and be certified by the manufacturer.
These septic systems on new construction are eligible for funding from the Bay Restoration Fund, but funding may be limited due to the current priorities for the use of the fund. Funding from the Bay Restoration Fund has helped pay for 3,132 septic systems in Maryland to be upgraded with nitrogen-removal technology.