Attendees to the BATter Up! Understanding the BAT Septic System Issue panel on December 7 at the 2016 MACo Winter Conference received an update on the proposed regulations to repeal the mandate that best available nitrogen removal technology (BAT) septic systems be used outside of a critical area. Panelists also discussed alternative methods to offset the BAT septic nitrogen loads and implementation issues.
Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) Water Management Administration Director Lynn Buhl noted that changing the BAT septic requirements was a major complaint made to the Regulatory Reform Commission. Buhl stated that the revised regulations allowed counties to tailor requirements to address their specific watershed issues and was not a “one size fits all” solution. Buhl described how the regulations fit into MDE’s “3 Rs” strategy of reform (regulations), retool (septic enforcement and maintenance compliance), and rethink (connecting areas served by septics to a wastewater treatment plant). Buhl also discussed changes that would need to be made to the Bay Restoration Fund starting in FY 2018.
Frederick County Sustainability and Environmental Resources Manager Shannon Moore discussed potential alternative methods to offsetting current nitrogen septic loads , including through regular pump outs. Moore also discussed the need to offset some or all new septic system loads under the State’s forthcoming “Aligning for Growth” policy through onsite mitigation, nutrient credit trading, or a fee in lieu.
Baltimore County Ground Water Manager Kevin Koepenick highlighted implementation issues facing the counties, including: where BAT systems may still be required, permits issued for an uninstalled BAT system where the permittee now wants to change to a conventional septic system, and taking a BAT system out of service.
Maryland Senator Johnny Ray Salling moderated the panel.