Secretary Grumbles statement on Queen Anne’s Co. vote on Southern Kent Island Sewer Project

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media contact: Jay Apperson

jay.appersonn@maryland.gov

410-537-3003

SECRETARY GRUMBLES STATEMENT ON QUEEN ANNE’S CO. VOTE ON SOUTHERN KENT ISLAND SEWER PROJECT

Baltimore (August 24, 2016) – Maryland Secretary of the Environment Ben Grumbles today issued the following statement on the Queen Anne’s County Commissioners vote last night in favor of the Southern Kent Island Sewer Project, which will provide public sewer service to an area that suffers from pollution caused by failing septic systems.

“We congratulate Queen Anne’s County for moving forward on this important environmental project. Local support, financial sustainability and good science lead to the best outcomes for the environment and the economy. That’s why we are enthusiastic about promoting similar discussions in other communities across the state. It makes sense to stop the harm from failing septics and rethink the opportunities for broader solutions, including sewers and treatment systems.”

The Queen Anne’s County Commissioners approved Phase I of the project, which includes construction of a sewage main to serve areas of Southern Kent Island. The Maryland Department of the Environment expects to help finance the project by providing a $34 million low-interest loan that includes a $1.2 million grant in the form of loan forgiveness, along with about $15 million in Bay Restoration Fund grants over the next several years to assist with loan repayment.

Earlier this week, the Maryland Department of the Environment submitted a proposed regulatory action to provide smart and balanced regulatory reform involving requirements for Best Available Technology for removal of nitrogen in certain septic systems. The BAT septic system regulatory reform is one part of the Department’s broader effort to meet clean water goals in the most effective, efficient, and equitable ways.

The broader effort includes:

  • Reforming the BAT regulations
  • Re-tooling inspection and enforcement efforts. The Department is committing to enhance compliance assistance and enforcement efforts with an emphasis on failing septic systems statewide.
  • Re-thinking the septics vs. sewer decisions. In many cases counties and communities are seeking financial, legal and regulatory assistance to help connect failing septic systems to public sewer. MDE and the Maryland Department of Planning will participate in a workshop for local governments and other interested parties in the coming months on opportunities for septic to sewer projects, including financial and technical assistance the Departments can offer for such efforts.

Secretary Ben Grumbles: “We are fully committed to clean water progress and meeting Chesapeake Bay goals and requirements. This is a measured step to reduce regulatory burden and build public support for a smarter and more effective septics program across the state. We are customizing the statewide requirement to meet local watershed needs more effectively while still insisting on excellent environmental results. Innovation and collaboration at the local level, rather than locking into one particular technology, will lead to more success in protecting and sustaining Maryland’s precious environment. We will work hard to make sure it happens through regulatory reform, education, compliance assistance and enforcement.”

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