On April 1 the Maryland General Assembly passed MACo’s 2014 Legislative Initiative allowing Bay Restoration Fund (BRF) monies to be used to connect failing septic systems outside of a Priority Funding Area (PFA) to a wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) with capacity. Currently law only allows such connections inside of a PFA. House Bill 11 was sponsored by the Maryland Department of the Environment and is the second of MACo’s four Legislative Initiatives to pass.
Under HB 11, an eligible area must be designated as a” public health area of concern” and receive State approval after going through a Smart Growth exception review process. MACo supported the bill with amendments to clarify when a public health area of concern must be added to a county’s water and sewer plan and expanded eligible WWTPs both inside and outside of a PFA to include plants using biological nutrient removal. The bill was amended by the House and Senate to include both the MACo amendments and the following additional provisions: (1) the funding agreement for a project must include provisions to ensure: (i) denial of access for any future connections that are not included in the project’s proposed service area and (ii) that the project will not unduly impede access to funding for upgrading individual septic systems to BAT; (2) MDE must adopt regulations establishing review and public notice procedures; (3) grandfathering criteria for a longstanding proposed project in Queen Anne’s County; and (4) MDE must submit an annual report to the General Assembly.
MACo supported both the House and Senate amendments.