CHESAPEAKE BAY NITROGEN REDUCTION ACT
The Act requires that, on property owned in the Critical Area, all onsite sewage disposal systems (OSDS) serving newly constructed buildings and all replacement OSDS include the best available technology for removing nitrogen (BAT). SB 554 is effective October 1, 2009. Any septic system installed in the Critical Area that is started after October 1, 2009 will have to include BAT.
Best Available Technology for Nitrogen Removal (BAT) means an OSDS nitrogen removal system approved for use and funding in the Bay Restoration Fund (BRF).
Does it apply to me or my project?
The Act applies:
- if part of the property is in the Critical Area, and
- if work commences after October 1, 2009, and
- if a new, upgraded, or replacement septic system is required (In Cecil County, BAT is not required for minor repairs to a septic system such as a clogged or broken pipe. Please note that replacement of a septic tank requires BAT installation.).
The law provides no grandfathering provision based on the date of application or the date a permit is issued. BAT is required on septic system installations after October 1, 2009 in the Critical Area even if permits had already been obtained.
What are the Requirements for Operation and Maintenance (O&M)?
- All BAT systems require operation and maintenance in perpetuity by maintaining a service contract with a certified service provider approved by the vendor of the BAT. Upon MDE approval, a governmental agency or their designee may also assume responsibility for O&M as either the responsible management entity or by issuing renewable operating permits.
- Each BAT system shall be inspected and have necessary operation and maintenance performed by a certified service provider at a minimum of once per year.
What Financial Assistance is Available?
Based on the availability of funds in accordance with the Annotated Code of Maryland, the BRF can pay for the cost difference between a traditional system and one that includes BAT. The Annotated Code specifies that grants can be made for up to 100 percent of the BAT cost with priority first given to failing systems located in the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Critical Area and then to failing systems that the Department determines are a threat to public health or water quality.
Additional financial assistance may be available through the following programs:
Contact (302) 857-3595
For more information on SERCAP programs please call 540-345-1184.
A subtraction modification against personal income tax for upgrade costs (less any Bay Restoration Fund assistance) may apply to tax years beginning after December 31, 2009.
What penalties are there for noncompliance?
Senate Bill 554 authorizes fines up to $8000 for installation of a septic system on property in the Critical Area after October 1, 2009. In addition, MDE has stated that enforcement of the Acts requirements may include seeking injunctive orders. The Cecil County Health Department would be unable to approve any permits for properties that have not complied with this Act.
Guidance for Well Owners
The following guide covers private well maintenance
and water testing in Cecil County.
Appeals Process for Well & Septic Permit Denials and Enforcement Actions.
The following section outlines the appeal rights for certain water and sewage decisions by the
Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) and the Cecil County Health Department
Right to Appeal
The Administrative Procedure Act (Title 10, Subtitle 2 of the State Government Article of the
Annotated Code of Maryland) sets forth the procedures for appealing a final decision issued by
MDE or an Approving Authority regarding the grant, denial, renewal suspension, or amendment
of a license, certificate, charter, permit, or registration that is required by statute. The appeal is in
the form of a contested case hearing with the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH).
In addition to the Administrative Procedure Act, both MDE and OAH have regulations that
govern rules of procedure for contested case hearings (COMAR 26.01.01 et seq and COMAR
28.02.01 et seq).
Decisions That Can Be Appealed to MDE
This appeal right applies to the following final decisions:
● Sewage disposal where public sewage systems are not available (Code of
Maryland Regulations (COMAR) 26.04.02);
● Water supply and sewage systems in subdivisions (COMAR 26.04.03);
● Well construction (COMAR 26.04.04); and
● Water supply, sewage disposal, and solid waste as part of shared facilities
Notice of Right to Appeal
When MDE or CCHD issues a final decision as referenced above, a written notice letter will be
issued to the applicant seeking MDE or CCHD approval. The notice will include appeal rights and
required timeframes to file an appeal.
Requesting an Appeal
1) It is recommended that you clarify the reason your permit application was not approved.
You can contact our local health department for details at (410) 996-5160. In some cases,
basic modifications to your application may resolve the problem.
2) If there is not a simple resolution, you can request an informal conference with our staff to
have a more in-depth discussion. We recommend that you have your professional
contractor accompany you since the potential solutions are often technical in nature.
3) If an informal conference does not resolve the issue leading to denial and you are issued
a final denial by the CCHD or MDE, you have the right to request a formal appeal with the
Maryland Department of Environment. All requests for contested case hearings shall be
filed with MDE’s Water and Science Management Administration Director, 1800
Washington Blvd, Baltimore, MD 21230 within thirty (30) calendar days after notification
of the final decision by MDE or the Cecil County Health Department.
The written request for a contested case hearing must include a hearing request and
attach a copy of the MDE or Approving Authority notice letter that is being appealed. The
request should also include a brief statement of the factual and legal basis for the appeal.
After receiving the request for a contested case hearing, MDE will transmit the request to
the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH).
4) Upon receipt of the filing, OAH will send written notices to the parties, confirming the filing
and notice of relevant hearing dates. The hearing will be conducted as provided for in the
Administrative Appeals Act, as well as OAH and MDE procedure regulations.
Loss of Appeal Rights
If a request for a contested case hearing is not made within thirty (30) calendar days, the final
decision of MDE or the Approving Authority is no longer appealable, and the decision is
considered final. The applicant must comply with any terms and conditions of the final decision.