Septics and Sewers Are Everyone’s Business at #MACoCon

Even more about staff retention and how it effects county governments – this time in septic and sewer infrastructure.

Septic and sewer infrastructure is an incredibly pivotal piece of local government functions that has a cascading array of consequences when the people are not in place to make the process go. That is, by design, not a pun. At the MACo Winter Conference, we had a chance to hear from local and state leaders on the 101 elements of sewer and septic, but what really fomented in the question and answer session as well as some of the presentations, were the challenges that are reaching a pinnacle to the point of legislative solutions being on the table.

A major shared problem expressed at the state and local level seemed to be the shortage of qualified environmental health specialists to keep the permitting process moving forward on new systems as well as the repair of old systems. Like any problem, the solutions are currently being debated amongst the various stakeholders with the goal being to make sure environmental health departments are able to acquire, train, and keep sufficient staff to fulfill the undoubtedly noble mission of effective flushing for all.

A key takeaway from this panel – it would be an understatement to say that solving this problem is complicated. It is not a new issue and there are a lot of stakeholders who are interested in finding mutually agreeable solutions. As a quick round-up, the stakeholders at the state level are the Maryland Department of Health, the Maryland Department of the Environment, the Maryland Department of Budget and Management…and anyone who needs to flush a toilet. On the county level, it’s even bigger – the local health departments, environmental health directors, real-estate investors, developers, legislators, homeowners, renters…really, anyone who needs to flush a toilet. In short, expect this topic to continue gaining attention during the 2023 legislative session.

Title: The Politics of Flushing? The Basics of Septic and Sewer


  • Matt Cumers, Calvert County, 1st Vice President of Maryland Conference of Environmental Health Directors
  • Dr. Andrew Lazur, Water Quality Specialist, UMD Extension Service
  • Les Knapp, Local Government Advisor, MDE

Moderator: The Honorable Mary Beth Carozza, Maryland Senate

More about MACo’s Winter Conference: