Press Release
February 3, 2011

Chesapeake Bay Foundation Applauds Governor's Announcement on Septics

(ANNAPOLIS, MD)—Kim Coble, Maryland Executive Director of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, issued the following statement following Governor O'Malley's announcement of support today for limiting development on septic systems in Maryland:

"This is a bold step. We are pleased Governor O'Malley recognizes the potential benefits of limiting major development projects that use septic systems, an old technology. We applaud him for this major commitment towards restoring the Bay and for his continued environmental leadership.

"Maryland, through its Watershed Implementation Plan, has agreed to take steps to reduce nutrient pollution. Using septic systems on major subdivisions runs counter to the state's commitment.

"All the progress we hope to make in reducing pollution from other sources—wastewater treatment plants, urban and suburban streets, coal plants, cars, farms—all could be undone if we continue to allow sprawl growth using septic systems in our rural areas. It will be one step forward and two steps backward."

"The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) called for similar action in our formal comments submitted for the Maryland Watershed Implementation Plan. We feel this is a top priority for meeting the state's pollution diet, and for restoring a biological system that is still dangerously out of balance."


Map of Maryland Improved Parcels on Septic SystemsMap courtesy Maryland Department of Planning

Note: The Maryland Department of Planning (MDP) has projections on the number of new septic systems in Maryland in coming years, and the impact on pollution, on its Smart Growth Goals, Measures, and Indicators website. (scroll down the page to "Impact of Septic Systems")

According to MDP, about 3.6 million pounds of nitrogen flows into the Chesapeake Bay from Maryland septic systems each year. Without limiting the development of new septic systems, MDP projects that over the next 20 years 145,000 new septic systems will result in a 34 percent increase in the Bay's total nitrogen load.


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