Proposed BAT Septic Regs, MDE FAQ Sheet Published

The proposed regulations to repeal the mandate for best available nitrogen removal technology (BAT) septic systems outside of a critical area (beyond 1,000 feet of the waters of the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays or their tributaries) were published in the 2016-09-16 issue of the Maryland Register. Public comment on the proposed regulations is open through October 17. It is likely that the legislative committee that reviews regulations – the Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive and Legislative Review (AELR) – will request a hearing on the proposed regulations and could potentially place a temporary hold on them. Assuming no unexpected procedural disruptions, the regulations could be finalized and go into effect in early 2016.

Additionally, the Maryland Department of the Environment has released a FAQ sheet on the proposed regulations. The FAQ sheet describes the proposed regulations and then answers several questions on the implementation process and the effect on homeowners and developers. From the FAQ sheet:

When can we expect the regulations to change?

The final adoption date of draft regulations is not available at this time. The draft regulatory changes were submitted to the Administrative, Executive and Legislative Review committee (AELR) on August 22, 2016. The AELR Committee reviews the proposed changes, the draft regulations are published on the Maryland Register for 45 days, which includes a 30 day public comment period. The proposal to change the regulations may take several months; a final date is not known at this time.

Can I submit a septic permit today that does not indicate a BAT unit will be installed?

No, the regulations that are currently in place are applicable and every Approving Authority must adhere to those regulations. …

My new construction is not to be completed until next year; can I hold off on installing the BAT unit?

Yes, if the Approving Authority is in agreement and the property will meet all requirements under the draft regulation. However, use and occupancy of a new structure cannot be approved until the septic construction permit is finalized.

Can a homeowner take an existing BAT and convert it to a conventional septic system or make the BAT inoperable?

The Approving Authority may allow this proposed change on privately purchased BATs at their discretion so long as the property is approvable with a conventional septic disposal system and the draft regulations are adopted as final.

If the property received any Bay Restoration Funds (partial or full grant) for the purchase, installation, and operation and maintenance (O&M) contract, the BAT shall not be converted to a conventional septic system or be made inoperable.

Must a homeowner maintain service in perpetuity of the BAT system?

Yes, the regulation does not change the requirement for the operation and maintenance in perpetuity. Any BAT unit installed in Maryland, existing or proposed, must be serviced by a certified service provider. …

Can an existing 5 year Operation and Maintenance contract be changed to a 2 year after the regulation is in effect?

If the property received Bay Restoration Funds for the purchase, installation, and O&M contract, the O&M contract cannot be reduced. If the property did not utilize BRF funds, the homeowner may renegotiate with the manufacturer and service provider for a two year contract.

Useful Links

AELR Committee Webpage