The Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund is considered to be one of the most significant environmental policies of our time. Delegate Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio was a cosponsor of the legislation that created the Restoration Fund, which is being used to clean up the State’s most polluting waste water treatment plants, but also to fix old, failing septic systems. Failing septic systems leak nitrogen into the ground that eventually ends up in the Chesapeake Bay and our drinking water.
As part of the Restoration Fund initiative, citizens can apply to the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) to have the septic system upgrade done for free. To date, very few people have taken advantage of this program. Delegate Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio would like to change that and is encouraging her constituents to take advantage of it as soon as possible. “There are two important reasons to do it now,” Haddaway said. “First, it is an important step toward removing nutrient pollution from the Chesapeake Bay. Second, it is very possible that in the near future, the State of Maryland will be requiring citizens to make these upgrades and I am concerned that many of my constituents will not be able to afford the cost on their own.”
If you wonder whether this is a possibility or not, one need only look at House Bill 1083, House Bill 346 or House Bill 176, all of which are currently pending in the Environmental Matters Committee. Each bill requires citizens to install new technology on their septic systems that can cost anywhere from $4,000 to $10,000 per system. One bill would even make it a misdemeanor with a $1,000 fine if citizens do not comply. “The intent of the legislation is good,” Haddaway added. “We all want a cleaner Chesapeake Bay, but at the same time, we have to be sensitive to the tough economic times we are in. We should allow the program we already have in place to start working before we put this additional burden on our citizens.” For more information on how to get your septic system upgraded, contact Delegate Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio or visit the Maryland Department of the Environment’s web site at: http://www.mde.state.md.us/Water/CBWRF/osds/