The Chesapeake Bay Nitrogen Reduction Act of 2009: What does it mean to you?
(Excerpts taken from Article written by Paula Martino, SMAR Govenment Affairs Director)
All three counties in Southern Maryland (Charles, St. Mary's and Calvert) and all the counties bordering on the Chesapeake Bay on the Eastern Shore, have land located within the Chesapeake Bay Critical Area (CBCA). The CBCA includes all lands within 1000' of the mean high water line of tidal waters or the landward edge of tidal wetlands of the Chesapeake Bay and Coastal Bays and their tidal tributaries. The exact limits of the CBCA are established on official maps that can be found in the Planning Departments of all the county government offices.
Also know as Senate Bill 554, this law went into effect October 1, 2009. As of that date SB554 requires that, on property owned in the CBCA, all on-site sewage disposal systems (OSDS) serving newly constructed building and all replacement OSDS include the best available technology for removing nitrogen (BAT). The first requirement of the law is very straightforward: If the land is located within the CBCA and the landowner wishes to build a new house or other building that requires a septic system, the system MUST employ BAT for nitrogen removal. What is not so straightforward is the determination for when a septic upgrade is required for the alteration of existing buildings (residential or otherwise). Thsi will have a particular impact on the resale market and REALTORS should know how to advise sellers and buyers when an improved property is located within the CBCA.
1) In those circumstances where a residence of other building is being altered and the Approving Authority (the local Health Department) determines that the existing OSDS is not adequate to serve the proposed altered building, a BAT system is necessary. This means that any alteration or addition to an existing building in the CBCA that requires the issuance of a building or zoning permit WILL be subject to this review by the local Health Department.
2) Minor repairs to an OSDS such as a clogged or broken pipe do not require an upgrade to a BAT system. However, upgrade to a BAT system is required when replacing the septic tank or drainfield of an existing system.
3) Financial assistance is currently available through the Bay Restoration Fund. Grants can be made for up to 100% of the BAT cost with priority first given to failing systems and holding tanks located within the CBCA and then to systems the Health Department determines are a threat to public health or water quality. That's BAT cost only, or more plainly stated: The cost difference between a traditional OSDS and a BAT system is eligible for up to 100% grant funding.
4) Preperty owners who install BAT systems need to aware these systems require operation and maintenance in perpetuity by maintaining a service contract with a certified service provider approved by the vendor of the BAT. Each BAT must be inspected and have necessary operation and maintenance performed annually, at a minimum.
5) The Maryland Department of the Environment has a website where property owners can find pre-applications for grant money, lists of BAT vendors, BAT installers and the contact information of MDE project manager assigned to Southern Maryland. For more information, go to: www.mde.state.md.us/water/CBWRF/osds/.