Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley has signed an executive order to study septic system use in the state and find out how much pollution the on-site wastewater systems contribute to the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers.

The executive order forms a task force that includes representatives from science, business, government, agriculture and environmental advocacy communities.

The task force will review, study and make recommendations on a variety of septic and growth-related issues, including:

  • Current and future effects of septic systems on waterways and growth patterns
  • Whether existing growth areas with central sewage could accommodate projected septic system growth
  • Costs and benefits of serving future growth with septic systems versus central sewage
  • Current policies and practices of connecting failed septic systems to wastewater treatment plants and the growth, fiscal and environmental implications

Approximately 411,000 Maryland households are currently on septic systems. During the next 25 years, new developments using septic systems are expected to account for 26 percent of growth in Maryland, but 76 percent of new nitrogen pollution. Maryland must reduce nitrogen pollution by 21 percent by 2020 to comply with the EPA's Bay pollution diet.”

"There's greater recognition now for the societal costs of sprawl development on septic,” said Governor O’Malley. “Continuing down the same path will undercut the progress we’ve made on restoring the health of the Chesapeake Bay and will overburden our farmers and other industries that are making changes to limit pollution in our waterways."

The task force will report its findings by December 1.

For more information about septic systems and pollution, view this presentation given by Gov. O’Malley to the Maryland General Assembly in March.



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