Residents who recently received a septic system permit that requires the use of “best available technologies” may be able to put in a less expensive system because of a change in Maryland law.The rules being weakened were put in place during democratic administrations largely to discourage development in rural and suburban areas. While they do protect the environment in specific cases (critical areas and in shallow drinking water aquifers) they are wildly overprotective when applied across the board.
New construction projects after Jan. 1, 2013, were required to use best available technologies for capturing nitrogen to reduce the amount reaching the Chesapeake Bay. Gov. Larry Hogan removed that requirement on Nov. 24 except for “critical areas,” which are lands within 1,000 feet of tidal water. All of Frederick County is beyond that threshold.
The addition of best available technology to a septic system can cost several thousand dollars. The state approves the specific technologies, but the Frederick County Health Department also considers cost and variations on the technology that can be used by homebuilders and commercial developers seeking a septic system permit.
Barry Glotfelty, director of Frederick County Environmental Health Services, said the agency will review all new and resubmitted recent permits on a case-by-case basis.What? Actually evaluating whether a given installation is harmful? What a novel idea!
Soil type and lot size will determine if nitrogen-capturing technology is still needed to protect groundwater, Glotfelty said.