Letter to Editor: Sassafras & Chester Riverkeepers Say Keep Best Technology Septic Systems for All

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The Chester River Association and Sassafras River Association oppose the newly proposed regulation that eliminates the requirement for Best Available Technology (BAT) septic systems outside of the Critical Area. We oppose this repeal for one reason: it will result in more pollution to our local waters. Please share your views with your elected officials; we believe in investing in this technology because it will reduce pollution.

Current Maryland regulations require all new or replacement septics to utilize best available technology. These high-tech systems reduce nitrogen pollution by 50%-70%, while conventional systems do not reduce nitrogen at all – clearly, high-tech septics are the best choice for local water quality. Yet the proposal from the MD Dept. of the Environment would roll back these protections.

We cannot afford to go backwards in our efforts for cleaner water – everyone must do their part and homeowners with septics are no exception. Our rural area has many neighborhoods that depend on septics; it’s only fair that septic owners, like farmers and other landowners, participate in reducing pollution.

Some people oppose using the high-tech septics because of cost, but the systems are relatively cost-effective. A high-tech system costs about $7,500 more than a conventional system; if you spread this installation cost over its 20-year pollution-reducing lifespan, the cost-effectiveness of the high-tech system is $23 per pound of nitrogen removed. For comparison, the cost-effectiveness of agricultural best management practices ranges from $10 to $800 and of stormwater practices ranges from $100 to thousands of dollars, according to the MD Dept. of the Environment.

The Chester and Sassafras River Associations stand together in opposing this repeal because it puts at risk water quality, public health, and Maryland’s commitment to a clean Chesapeake Bay.

Isabel Hardesty, Chester Riverkeeper
Emmett Duke, Sassafras Riverkeeper

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