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Maryland State Government Maryland Department of the Environment

Bay Restoration Fee Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) regarding the BRF Fee effective 7/1/12 based on HB 446 enacted during the 2012 Legislative SessionNew!

Residential Water/Sewer Service Customers
Non-Residential Water/Sewer Service Customers
Drinking Water (DW) & Sewerage/Wastewater (WW) Treatment Plant (TP) Owners including Industrial WWTP
Onsite Sewage Disposal Systems (OSDS)/Septic System Owners & County Governments


Residential Water/Sewer Service Customers

The fee for some users in Garrett County and the Ocean City area where the wastewater does not drain into the Chesapeake Bay or the Coastal Bay watersheds (surface or ground water) will remain at the existing fee rate of $2.50 per month (Contact your local billing authority for details).  The following Questions and Answers apply to residential customers in ALL OTHER areas of Maryland, effective July 1, 2012, and will remain in effect until June 30, 2030:

  1. As a residential individual-home customer, I receive a bill for the “sewer” service. Do I have to pay the Bay Restoration Fund (BRF) Fee)?

    Yes. Your existing sewer billing authority will add the BRF Fee to your sewer bill. The Fee starting July 1, 2012 will be a flat rate of $5.00 per month. If you receive a quarterly bill, a BRF fee of $15.00 will be shown on your bill.

  2. As a residential multi-unit/apartment customer, I do not receive a bill for the “sewer” service.  Do I have to pay the Bay Restoration Fee?

    Not directly. The multi-unit/apartment Owner will be billed the Bay Restoration Fee by the sewer billing authority, and they may choose to recover this Fee through the rent or other means.

  3. As a residential individual-home customer, I receive a bill for the “water” service but have a septic tank.  Do I have to pay the Bay Restoration Fee?

    Yes. Your existing “water” billing authority will add the BRF Fee to your bill. The Fee starting July 1, 2012 will be a flat rate of $5.00 per month ($60 per year.) If you receive a quarterly bill, a BRF fee of $15.00 will be shown on your bill.

  4. As a residential individual-home customer, I currently receive separate bills from separate utilities for the “water” and “sewer” service. Will I be billed the BRF fee by both authorities?

    No, you will be billed only by one entity. The “sewer” billing authority is responsible for collecting the Bay Restoration Fee; however, they may coordinate with the water authority on who is best suited to collect the fee.

  5. As a residential customer, can I be exempted from paying the Bay Restoration Fee?

    Yes. The law requires, subject to approval by the State, the billing authority must establish a program to exempt certain residential dwellings that demonstrate substantial financial hardship. You will need to contact your billing authority to see if you qualify.

  6. As a residential dwelling on a private well and septic system, I do not receive any bill for water or sewer service. Do I have to pay the Bay Restoration Fee?

    Yes. The County Government in which you reside is responsible for collecting the “Septic” Fee. Starting July 1, 2012, the BRF fee will be $60 per year per user of a septic system or holding tank. 

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Non-Residential Water/Sewer Service Customers

The fee for some users in Garrett County and the Ocean City area where the wastewater does not drain into the Chesapeake Bay or the Coastal Bay watersheds (surface or ground water) will remain at the existing fee rate of $2.50 per month per EDU, not to exceed $5,000 (or 2,000 EDU) per month (Contact your local billing authority for details).  The following Questions and Answers apply to non-residential customers in ALL OTHER areas of Maryland, effective July 1, 2012, and will remain in effect until June 30, 2030:

  1. As a Non-residential customer, I receive a bill for the “sewer” service. Do I have to pay the Bay Restoration Fee?

    Yes (unless you are a local government or an entity that is exempted under the statute – see other Q&A below). Your existing sewer billing authority will add the Bay Restoration Fee to your sewer bill.  The Fee will be calculated based on your water usage or wastewater generated, converted into Equivalent Dwelling Units (EDU) and billed at the rate of $5.00 per month per EDU.  For example:
    • Water Usage (wastewater generated) per month: 90,000 gallons
    • Average Daily Usage: 90,000/30 = 3,000 gallons
    • Conversion to EDU (250 gpd = 1 EDU) = 3,000/250 = 12 EDU
    • BRF Fee/ Month = $5.00 x 12 = $60
    The maximum fee is $120,000 per year ($10,000/month) for any single-site user. This is equivalent to a maximum of 2,000 EDU.

  2. As a Non-residential customer, I receive a bill for the “water” service but have a septic tank.  Do I have to pay the Bay Restoration Fee?

    Yes. Your existing water billing authority will add the Bay Restoration “Septic” Fee to your water bill.  Starting July 1, 2012, the fee will be calculated based on a flat rate of $5.00 per month per “user” of a Septic System/Onsite Sewage Disposal System (OSDS). Consistent with the legislative intent, the State is defining “user” as one-household or one-equivalent business connected to a septic system/OSDS.

  3. As a farmer, I receive a bill for the “water” service and this water is used for agricultural purposes (not sent back into the sewer system). Do I have to pay the Bay Restoration Fee?

    The BRF fee is a wastewater fee, and if the water consumed is not converted into wastewater, that quantity of water is not subject to the BRF fee.

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Drinking Water (DW) & Sewerage/Wastewater (WW) Treatment Plant (TP) Owners inclucing Industrial WWTP

The fee for some users in Garrett County and the Ocean City area where the wastewater does not drain into the Chesapeake Bay or the Coastal Bay watersheds (surface or ground water) will remain at the existing fee rate of:

a. $2.50 per month per household (single unit home) and
b. $2.50 per month per EDU for non-residential users (including apartments etc.), not to exceed $5,000 (or 2,000 EDU) per month.

Please contact MDE at 410-537-3119 for additional information or questions.
The following Questions and Answers apply to residential and non-residential users in ALL OTHER areas of Maryland, effective July 1, 2012, and will remain in effect until June 30, 2030:

  1. What is the new Bay Restoration Fee billing rate for the water or sewer customers/users?

    Starting July 1, 2012, the new BRF fee will be as follows:

    Residential User: A flat rate of $5.00 per month. If you send out a quarterly bill, a BRF fee should be $15.00 per quarter.

    Commercial (multi-family)/Non-Residential Users: The Fee will be calculated based on water usage or wastewater generated, converted into Equivalent Dwelling Units (EDU) and billed at the rate of $5.00 per month per EDU. For example:
     

    • Water Usage (wastewater generated) per month: 90,000 gallons
    • Average Daily Usage: 90,000/30 = 3,000 gallons
    • Conversion to EDU (250 gpd = 1 EDU) = 3,000/250 = 12 EDU
    • BRF Fee/ Month = $5.00 x 12 = $60

    The maximum fee is $120,000 per year ($10,000/month) for any single-site user. This is equivalent to a maximum of 2,000 EDU.

  2. As a Drinking Water System Owner, I provide drinking water service, while another entity (e.g., County) is providing sewerage service. Who is responsible for collecting the BRF fee?

    The “sewer” billing authority is responsible for collecting the Bay Restoration Fee; however, they may coordinate with the water authority on who is best suited to collect the fee.

  3. As a Drinking Water System Owner, do I have to collect the Bay Restoration fee from my drinking water users that are on septic tanks (i.e., users that do not receive sewer service)?

    Yes, only if you have a formal drinking water billing system. For example, you send out water bills periodically to collect water charges from users. If you do not specifically bill for water (e.g., water charges are part of the overall rent) you are not a water billing authority under the BRF statute, and the County Government is responsible for collecting the BRF from septic system users.

  4. As a DW/WW Treatment Plant Owner, do I have to bill the Bay Restoration Fee on a monthly basis?

    No. The Bay Restoration Fee billing should be based on your existing water/sewer billing schedule. For example, if you bill a water/sewer customer quarterly, the Bay Restoration Fee should be billed quarterly (also see question 1 above).

  5. As a DW/WWTP Owner, do I have to identify the Bay Restoration Fee on the bills?

    Yes. The water/sewer bills must identify the Fee as “Bay Restoration Fee” along with the corresponding dollar ($) fee amount as a separate line.

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  6. As a Wastewater Treatment Plant Owner that also provides water service, do I have to collect the Bay Restoration Fee from my drinking water users that are on septic tanks (i.e., users not receiving sewer service bills)?

    Yes. For users that receive water bills only and are on septic tanks, you must add BRF “Septic” Fee on their water bills based on a flat rate of $5.00 per month per “user” of a septic system/Onsite Sewage Disposal System (OSDS). Consistent with the legislative intent, the State is defining “User” as one-household or one-equivalent business connected to a septic system/OSDS. If you send out a quarterly bill, a BRF fee should be $15.00 per quarter per User.

  7. As a WWTP Owner, do I have to maintain a separate account for the Bay Restoration Fees?

    Yes. The law requires the billing authority or any authorized collecting agency shall establish a “segregated account” for the BRF fee collected. This could be sub-account within the accounting system where the BRF fees billed, collected, and deposited to the State Comptroller can be accounted for and audited.

  8. As a DW or WW Treatment Plant Owner, how do I bill non-residential users?

    See Question 1 above.

  9. As a WWTP Owner of a residential trailer park community, I do not bill the users for sewer service (e.g., sewer charges are part of the rent). Do I have to pay the Bay Restoration Fee?

    Yes. As the Owner of a WWTP, you are responsible for depositing the Bay Restoration Fee to the State Comptroller, even if you do not bill or collect the fee from your customers. In this case, the fee due to State Comptroller is based on the total quality of wastewater discharged as recorded or reported on the daily monitoring reports required per the MDE discharge permit. The Fee is based on your wastewater generated, converted into Equivalent Dwelling Units (EDU), and calculated at the rate of $5.00 per month per EDU. For example:
     

    • Wastewater Discharged per month: 90,000 gallons
    • Average Daily Discharge: 90,000/30 = 3,000 gallons
    • Conversion to EDU (250 gpd = 1 EDU) = 3,000/250 = 12 EDU
    • BRF Fee/ Month = $5.00 x 12 = $60

    The maximum fee is $120,000 per year ($10,000/month) for any single-site user. This is equivalent to a maximum of 2,000 EDU.

    The State Comptroller sends out the fee remittance form (BRF-1) to billing authority each quarter.

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  10. As a Municipal WWTP Owner, I provide sewer service to County residents, but provide one bill to the County based on metered flow. The County in-turn bills its residents separately for service. Do I have to collect the Bay Restoration Fee for the County residents?

    No. In the above example, the County, as the primary “sewer” billing authority for its residents is responsible for collecting the Bay Restoration Fee; however, they may coordinate with the water authority on who is best suited to collect the fee.

  11. As a Maryland WWTP Owner, I provide sewer service to Out-of-State users. Do I have to collect the Bay Restoration Fee from the Out-of-State users?

    Yes. The fee is to be paid by all users of a wastewater facility that is located in Maryland. Out-of-State users should be billed the BRF fee as part of their sewer bill.

  12. As a Maryland Drinking Water System Owner, I provide water service to Out-of-State users, who are on septic systems. Do I have to collect the Bay Restoration Fee from the Out-of-State users?

    No, since the septic system user is located out side the state of Maryland, they are not subject to the BRF septic fee.

  13. As an Out-of-State WWTP Owner, I provide sewer service to Maryland Users. Do I have to collect the Bay Restoration Fee from the Maryland Users?

    No. The Maryland entity that has the utility service agreement with you (the out-of-state WWTP Owner) is responsible for collecting the BRF fee from its Maryland customer. The Maryland entity may authorize you to collect the fee on their behalf through a contractual arrangement.

  14. As a WWTP Owner, can I exempt users from paying the Bay Restoration Fee?

    Yes. The law requires, subject to approval by the Maryland Department of the Environment, the billing authority must establish a program to exempt certain “residential” dwellings that demonstrate substantial financial hardship. For Guidance for billing authorities to establish programs for exempting certain residential users from paying the BRF fee because of substantial financial hardship, see MDE website at www.mde.state.md.us.
    The law also exempts the following: County, Municipal Corporation, Bi-County or Multi-County Agency under Article 28 or 29 of the Code, Housing Authority under Article 44A of the Code, School Board, Community College or any other Unit of the County or Municipal Corporation, or a local fire department as defined in § 9–401 of the public safety Article.

  15. As a WWTP Owner, when can I and/or my users be exempt from the Bay Restoration Fee?

    You and/or your users are exempt from paying the Bay Restoration Fee, if

    1. the WWTP facility has not received a Federal or State grant AND any one of the following two conditions is met:
       
      1. The Department of the Environment has determined that the wastewater facility does not discharge nitrogen or phosphorus and is not required to monitor for nitrogen or phosphorus in its discharge permit.
         
      2. The discharge permit requires monitoring for nitrogen or phosphorus and the prior-year annual average effluent quality as reported in the monitoring reports shows total nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations meet the definition of Enhanced Nutrient Removal (i.e., annual average nitrogen and phosphorus concentration of 3 mg/l and 0.3 mg/l respectively, unless the Maryland Department of the Environment has determined other levels are the lowest practicable for that Facility) or if discharging to groundwater the annual average nutrient concentrations in the wastewater prior to discharge to groundwater have not exceeded 3 mg/l total nitrogen and 0.3 mg/l total phosphorus, as demonstrated by analysis of the groundwater from monitoring wells located on the property and as reported in the discharge monitoring reports for the previous calendar year; OR
         
    2. the facility discharges noncontact cooling water or water from dewatering operations or reclaimed wastewater from a facility whose users pay into the fund, and your discharge does not result in a net increase in loading of nutrients (nitrogen or phosphorus) compared to the intake water.


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  16. As a WWTP Owner for a business, how do I calculate the Bay Restoration Fee?

    As a WWTP owner for a business, you are responsible for depositing the Bay Restoration Fee to the State Comptroller as the sole owner/user. The fee due to State Comptroller is based on the total quality of wastewater discharged as recorded or reported on the daily monitoring reports required per the MDE discharge permit. The Fee is based on your wastewater generated, converted into Equivalent Dwelling Units (EDU), and calculated at the rate of $5.00 per month per EDU. For example:

    • Wastewater Discharged per month: 90,000 gallons
    • Average Daily Discharge: 90,000/30 = 3,000 gallons
    • Conversion to EDU (250 gpd = 1 EDU) = 3,000/250 = 12 EDU
    • BRF Fee/ Month = $5.00 x 12 = $60

    The maximum fee is $120,000 per year ($10,000/month) for any single-site user. This is equivalent to a maximum of 2,000 EDU.
    The State Comptroller sends out the fee remittance form (BRF-1) to billing authority each quarter.

  17. As a WWTP Owner/billing authority, how do I recover my administrative expenses associated with the BRF fee billing?

    The Bay Restoration Fund legislation allows for the billing authority to use up to 5% of the fees collected for reasonable administrative expenses. The billing authority should keep records for the administrative expenses directly associated with the Bay Restoration Fee. The State Comptroller’s Office will provide instructions with the fee remittance form (BRF 1). Any unrecovered administrative costs can be carried forward and recovered over subsequent quarters/years.

  18. As a water/sewer billing authority or a WWTP owner for a business, when and to whom do I deposit the Fee?

    The Bay Restoration Fee is due to the State Comptroller on or before the 20th day of the month that follows the calendar quarter in which the Fee was collected. Note: When funds are deposited with the State Comptroller, the source of fees will need to be identified (on Form BRF-1) as either from “WWTP Users” (Line 1) or “Septic Users” ( Line 2) - users receiving drinking water service but are on septic tanks. The State Comptroller’s Office sends out BRF 1 forms quarterly to the billing authorities with instructions regarding depositing of the Bay Restoration Fee.

  19. As a billing authority for the collection of the Bay Restoration Fee, do I deposit the Fee to the State Comptroller on an accrual or cash basis?

    It’s your choice. You may deposit the Fee to the State Comptroller on either an “Accrual” basis (based on billed payments) or on a “Cash” basis (based on actual payments received).

  20. As a billing authority for the collection of the Bay Restoration Fee, how do I handle non-payment, late payment, or partial payment from my users?

    The billing entities may use their existing procedures and authority for collecting a water or sewer bill in enforcing the collection of the Bay Restoration Fee. Partial payments should be deposited on a pro-rata basis. The legislation also allows the State Comptroller to adopt regulations necessary to administer, collect and enforce the Restoration Fee.

  21. How does a BRF payment made in error get refunded to the user?

    The County or Water/Sewer Billing Authority is responsible for refunding a fees collected error from the user. The Billing Authority can account for the refunds by deducting that amount from the next BRF fee remittance due to the Comptroller, and keep records for audit purposes.

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Onsite Sewage Disposal Systems (Septic Systems/Holding Tanks) Septic System Owners & County Governments

The fee for some users in Garrett County and the Ocean City area where the wastewater does not drain into the Chesapeake Bay or the Coastal Bay watersheds (surface or ground water) will remain at the existing fee rate of $30 per year per user of a OSDS (septic system)/holding tank. The following Questions and Answers apply to OSDS users in ALL OTHER areas of Maryland, effective July 1, 2012, and will remain in effect until June 30, 2030:

  1. What is an On-Site Sewage Disposal System?

    An OSDS is a wastewater treatment system that discharged the treated effluent into the ground (not into stream/surface water). Small OSDS with flow of less than 5,000 gallons per day (gpd) are permitted by local health departments and generally classified as septic systems. Larger OSDS with flow more than 5,000 gpd are regulated under MDE groundwater discharge permits are classified as wastewater treatment plant.

  2. What is new Bay Restoration Fund (BRF) Fee rate for OSDS or holding tank users?

    Effective July 1, 2012, for OSDS or sewage holding tank users that do not receive a water bill, the BRF fee is $60 per year per user.

  3. Who is responsible for collecting the Bay Restoration Fee from OSDS or holding tank users that do not receive a water bill?

    The County Government in which the OSDS (Septic or Holding Tank) is located is responsible for the collection of the BRF Fee, unless the OSDS is classified as a wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) with a MDE groundwater discharge permit, where the WWTP owner is responsible for the BRF fee.

  4. How should the BRF fee billed when a property has multiple users connected to a single OSDS?

    The BRF fee is $60 per year per “User” of the OSDS/Septic System or Holding Tank. Consistent with the legislative intent, the State is defining “user” as one-household or one-equivalent business connected to an OSDS.

  5. How should a County bill a trailer park or other multi-unit OSDS users (not permitted with groundwater discharge permit by MDE) that does not receive a water bill?

    Trailer Parks: if the trailer park owner is identified as a single (property tax) account in the County records, the County will need to determine, in coordinate with the trailer park owner, the number of households/businesses (i.e., users) connected to the OSDS/septic system within the trailer park community and bill the trailer park owner the BRF fee @ $60 per year per user. In cases where the County property tax or other records identify individual accounts for each user on septic systems within a trailer park, the County could directly bill each user the BRF Septic Fee.
    Other Multi-Unit OSDS Users: The County will need to determine the number of “Users” served by the OSDS. For example, two homes or businesses connected to one OSDS would count as 2 users.

  6. How should the County bill a user when a property is not occupied for a complete year?

    If a property has a septic or holding tank and is billed property tax as an improved (not abandoned) property, the full BRF septic fee of $60 per year should be collected, irrespective of time period not occupied.

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  7. How should the users be billed when a property had more than one owner during the billing period?

    The County will collect the BRF fee from the owner of record at time of billing, and any adjustments will be done “settlement” similar to the how property taxes are treated.

  8. How does the County recover its administrative costs related to BRF fee billing?

    The Bay Restoration Fund legislation allows for the billing authority to use up to 5% of the fees collected for reasonable administrative expenses. The billing authority should keep records for the administrative expenses directly associated with the Bay Restoration Fee. The State Comptroller’s Office will provide instructions with the fee remittance form (BRF 1). Any unrecovered administrative costs can be carried forward and recovered over subsequent quarters/years.

  9. How will multiple parcels on one tax record be handled?

    The County will need to determine the number of OSDS/septic system users for each tax record and base the BRF fee accordingly.

  10. Can users be exempted from paying the BRF fee and who approves the exemptions?

    Yes. The law requires, subject to approval by the Maryland Department of the Environment, the local billing authority must establish a program to exempt certain “residential” users that demonstrate substantial financial hardship. For Guidance for billing authorities to establish programs for exempting certain residential users from paying the BRF fee because of substantial financial hardship, see MDE website at www.mde.state.md.us.
    The law also exempts the following: County, Municipal Corporation, Bi-County or Multi-County Agency under Article 28 or 29 of the Code, Housing Authority under Article 44A of the Code, School Board, Community College, or any other Unit of the County or Municipal Corporation, or a local fire department as defined in § 9–401 of the public safety Article.

  11. How are funds to be accounted for and paid to the State Comptrollers Office and when?

    The law requires the County/billing authority establish a “segregated account” for the deposit of funds collected. For record keeping purposes, the accounting system should be set up to identify the BRF fee billed and collected. The BRF Fee is due to the State Comptroller on or before the 20th day of the month that follows the calendar quarter in which the Fee is collected. The State Comptroller’s Office will provide Counties the Maryland Bay Restoration Fee Report Form (BRF-1) with instructions. Note: When funds are deposited with the State Comptroller’s Office, the source of BRF Septic Fees will need to be identified on line-2 as fee from Users of Septic/Holding Tank Systems.

  12. As a billing authority for the collection of the Bay Restoration Fee, do I deposit the Fee to the State Comptroller on an accrual or cash basis?

    It’s the County’s choice. You may deposit the Fee to the State Comptroller on either an “Accrual” basis (based on billing) or on a “Cash” basis (based on actual payments received).

  13. How should a County handle BRF fee non-payments, late payments, or partial payments from septic tank users?

    The legislation allows the County to use all of its existing procedures and authority in order to enforce the collection of the Bay Restoration Fee. The legislation also allows the State Comptroller to adopt regulations necessary to administer, collect and enforce the Restoration Fee. Partial payments should be deposited to the State Comptroller’s Office on a pro-rata basis. Any penalties and late fees may be retained by the County.

  14. How does a BRF payment made in error get refunded to the user?

    Any request for a refund of a BRF fee payment shall be filed with the County/Billing authority to which the payment was made and not with the Comptroller. The County/Billing Authority is responsible for refunding a payment made in error to the user. The County/Billing Authority will account for the refund in the separate BRF account and deduct that amount from the next BRF fee payment sent to the Comptroller.

 

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