Key Lawmaker Wants To Study Md. Septic Ban Idea

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) —  A measure banning septic systems for new, major subdivisions in Maryland should be delayed for further study, because lawmakers from both parties are worried about its economic impact, a key lawmaker recommended to Gov. Martin O’Malley.

Delegate Maggie McIntosh, a Baltimore Democrat who chairs the House Environmental Matters Committee, recommended in a letter Monday to the governor that a task force study the idea and report back by Dec. 1.

McIntosh noted in the letter that growth and the proliferation of septic systems will ultimately reverse advances the state is making by investing in wastewater treatment plant upgrades.

“However, an outright ban could and would have a disproportionate impact on several counties in Maryland,” McIntosh wrote, adding that she believes the proposal should be coupled with initiatives that help farms and rural counties.

O’Malley, a Democrat, has backed a bill to have homebuilders install top-grade septic systems in new developments as part of an effort to control rural growth and pollution in the Chesapeake Bay. He expressed his support for the proposal during his State of the State speech last month. The announcement surprised many lawmakers, and angered Republicans from rural counties.

Democrats also have expressed concerns. In a Feb. 24 letter, seven Democrats from rural and suburban communities wrote McIntosh that they were concerned about how the proposal could hurt private sector investment in the state.

“Every county in the state would be impacted by this legislation and, for several counties, the cost to build out public sewage systems into more remote parts of the county would cripple development and expansion into those areas,” the letter said.

The letter was signed by Delegates John Bohanan, D-St. Mary’s, Norman Conway, D-Wicomico, Mary-Dulany James, D-Harford, David Rudolph, D-Cecil, Galen Clagett, D-Frederick, Steven DeBoy, D-Baltimore County, and Sally Jameson, D-Charles.

Shaun Adamec, an O’Malley spokesman, said the governor believes the state has reached the point where strong measures need to be taken to reduce pollution from septic systems. Adamec said O’Malley still will support the bill as it has been introduced.

“If, in the end, there are legislators who believe there is not enough information to support that, then we need to get that information so that we can have an informative debate on this,” Adamec said.

O’Malley responded in a letter Tuesday that he wanted to move forward on the issue.

“We are making progress on three of the four main contributors to nitrogen pollution (farming, waste water and storm water), but the fourth, septic proliferation, has gone unchecked and is eroding that progress,” the governor wrote.

The bill, introduced by Sen. Paul Pinsky, D-Prince George’s and Delegate Stephen Lafferty, D-Baltimore County, would mandate new developments of five homes or more operate on top-grade shared septic systems. New groups of four or fewer homes would still be allowed to operate on less expensive single septic systems, which would still be required to remove more nitrogen than current systems.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

  • chuckbob

    This is not the time to be implementing this type of burden on homebuilders in Maryland. Also a shared septic system for 5 or more houses is not going to improve water quality to the point of benefitting the bay unless it is only imposed on homes nearest the bay itself.

  • peterthe geator

    What a croc of s……t. Pun intended. When is a Good time chuck the f….k?

  • Bob the Builder

    Yeah, this makes a whole lot of sense…a million dollar shared septic system with the latest technology next to a farm that imports chicken poo, tills up the topsoil, applies Nitrogen and Phosphorus fertilizer, and farms right up to a stream bank. Who is the real polluter of the Bay?

  • overregulated

    Meanwhile, O’Malley IGNORES raw sewage being dumped into Back River, the Patapsco and the Severn. But those folks vote for him, so he will target rural folks and septic systems, and make his posture. The Bay will never get better until the urban areas are made to clean up

  • peterthe geator

    OMalley is porky pigs replacement (Mikulski) next term. He doesn’t give a rats ass. vote Tea party.

  • Fred the Farmer

    Get your facts straight Bob… According to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation Maryland agriculture contributes 7.7% of the nitrogen pollution to the bay, which is about equal to the contribution of septic systems(7%). Maryland agriculture has been making progress for more than a decade, while septic systems are actually polluting more today than they were in 2000(according to Baystat For us to make any progress on bay restoration, EVERYONE has to do their part. Good luck.

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