Gov. Ho­gan re­vises sep­tic sys­tem reg­u­la­tions

Cecil Whig - - FRONT PAGE - By CH­ERYL MATTIX

cmat­tix@ce­cil­whig.com

— 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

ELK­TON

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.

CE­CIL WHIG FILE PHOTO

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.

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