BPW Approves Long-Standing Kent Island Sewer Project

A Capital Gazette article (2016-11-2) reported that the Maryland Board of Public Works (BPW) approved a long-considered but contested plan to extend sewer lines to communities with failing septic systems on Kent Island in Queen Anne’s County. The Kent Island project was a prominent part of the discussion during MACo’s successful legislative initiative to allow Bay Restoration Fund monies to be used for such connections during the 2014 Session (HB 11). From the article:

The board voted 2-1 to approve the $34 million project to connect 1,518 existing homes and eight commercial properties to Queen Anne’s County’s public sewer system. Gov. Larry Hogan and Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp voted to approve it. Comptroller Peter Franchot dissented.

Proponents, including Queen Anne’s County government, said the sewer line is needed to replace septic systems that are in many cases allowing noxious odors and dangerous pathogens to rise to the surface. They said the failing septic systems also allow pollutants such as nitrogen to flow into the Chesapeake Bay.

Opponents told the board the sewer line will open the door for excessive development in the low-lying area of Kent Island south of U.S. 50. They also questioned the cost of the project, saying there are less expensive ways of addressing the problem of failing septic systems.

The article noted that higher-than-anticipated costs had also posed a challenge for the project but the Hogan administration and Queen Anne’s County Board of County Commissioners had reached an agreement on State assistance:
The long-sought sewer project ran into trouble this summer when cost estimates came in almost 30 percent higher than expected. But the Hogan administration stepped in to help the county with a $32 million loan with an interest rate as low as 0.6 percent. Part of the state’s plan is to give the county a $15 million Bay Restoration Fund grant to help pay off that loan.

The Queen Anne’s commissioners decided to accept the help and to charge residents $100 a month for 20 years for their share of the cost.

Useful Links

Prior Conduit Street Coverage on Kent Island Septic System Issues

HB 11 of 2014