Today the Governor’s Task Force on Sustainable Growth meet again. This task force was set up in response to HB 1107, which failed last session. That bill would have prohibited local authorities from approving residential subdivions served by septic systems. The basis for the bill was the expected increase in the state’s nitrogen load to the Chesapeake Bay over the next 25 years. Although the Bill failed, a task force to look into these issues was formed and is expected to make recommendations for legislation next session. Today, the task force heard briefings from the MD Department of Planning on the capacity of major wastewater treatment plants to accomodate future growth.
The thrust of the briefing was to look at the sufficiency of waste water treatment systems, and the impact of HB 1107 restrictions on those systems. MDP reported that local governments are concerned that they are running out of WWTP capacity, making it more difficult to achieve smart growth as they reach capacity limits. Restrictions such as those in HB 1107 would, if enacted, shift new households from septic areas to WWTP-sheds. The task force also heard testimony on comparative costs between sewer and septic. Many questions were raised concerning assumptions for the comparisons, and for the practicality and engineering reality of WWTP expansions. Also, more widespread re-use of wastewater was discussed. The task force will meet again on Sept. 12.