Gov. Hogan revises septic system regulations
— Cecil County learned last week that the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) issued new regulations that impact septic systems outside of the critical area.
The Chesapeake Bay Critical Area is defined as all land within 1,000 feet of tidal waters, which seeks to protect lands that could impact the bay.
Property owners outside of the Chesapeake Bay Critical Areas will no longer have to install Best Available Technology (BAT) sewage systems when they build new construction, or are replacing an existing conventional septic system. The changes take effect Nov. 24.
“This is good news, particularly for properties unfairly penalized with the
excessive cost of a BAT system,” County Executive Tari Moore said Monday. “I’m not surprised about this news since Gov. Hogan promised to research this issue and make a decision.”
Hogan said in August during the Maryland Association of Counties summer convention that he intended to roll back the environmental regulations that were imposed during Gov. Martin O’Malley’s administration.
Cecil County Director of Environmental Health Fred von Staden was briefed on the changes in August, but didn’t expect them to be approved until closer to the end of the year.
The O’Malley regulations not only required projects within the 1,000 feet boundary to install the more expensive septic systems, but also all projects in any area without public sewers. It was all part of the effort to reduce the amount of nitrogen entering the Chesapeake Bay.
A variety of sources have estimated the average cost of a traditional septic system at about $4,000, while the newer BAT systems costs closer to $14,000 or more. However, money collected by the state over several years from the “flush tax” has created a funding mechanism for state grants to offset the cost of these BAT systems. Rules for application for these grants and details about what is covered are posted on the Cecil County Health Department’s website. “We have a total of $885,000 in Bay Restoration Program grant funds available through June 30, 2017,” von Staden said.
Much of Cecil County is not served by public sewer systems, requiring property owners to install septic or onsite disposal systems.
Officials at the Environmental Health Division of the Cecil County Health Department said Monday that anyone with an existing permit for a BAT system outside of the critical area, but hasn’t installed it yet, may contact the health department and request a change to a conventional tank.
A new application is not required, however, notification of a change must be given to the health department. For more information, call 410-996-5160.
The new regulation can be found in Maryland Code, under Title 26 Department of the Environment Subtitle 04.
Earlier this week, Gov. Hogan announced that county property owners outside of the Chesapeake Bay Critical Areas will no longer have to install Best Available Technology (BAT) sewage systems when they build new construction or replace an existing conventional septic system.