Apr 16, 2009

Maryland Passes Bill to Protect Chesapeake Bay from Septic Runoff

Measure requires nitrogen-removing technology for new septic systems in a designated "Critical Area"

The Maryland General Assembly recently passed a bill requiring thousands of homes to install expensive septic systems to keep nitrogen-laden runoff out of Chesapeake Bay, Greenwire reported.

Advocates of the Chesapeake say the bill is of critical importance to improve the bay's troubles with water quality.

"It's really, really amazing," said Sen. Michael G. Lenett, a Montgomery County Democrat and lead sponsor of the bill. "For too long we have known exactly what we needed to do to clean up the bay, and yet we have been unwilling to do what's necessary."

Intense opposition from builders and real estate agents killed a similar measure about 10 years ago. The measure this year also faced opposition, as industry advocates said it put an unfair burden on rural homeowners and would further hurt an already crippled housing industry.

According to The Baltimore Sun, septic waste from homes accounts for just 5% of the nitrogen fouling the bay, but in some heavily polluted rivers it contributes more than a quarter.

The measure will require nitrogen-removing technology for new systems in the "Critical Area," land near the Chesapeake and its tributaries and coastal bays, the paper reported.