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).

A list of approved BAT systems can be found at the BAT Systems website.

Does it apply to me or my project?

The Act applies:

  1. if part of the property is in the Critical Area, and
  2. if work commences after October 1, 2009, and
  3. 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.

For information on obtaining Bay Restoration Fund grants for BAT associated costs, click here.

Additional financial assistance may be available though the following programs:

USDA 504 Loan & Grant Program

Contact (302) 857-3595

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.

Well Information

Guidance for Well Owners

The following guide covers private well maintenance
and water testing in Cecil County.

CCHD-EHS Well Guide 10-2021