County Again Opposes Proposed Septic Changes

SNOW HILL – The Worcester County Commissioners agreed this week to send a letter of opposition to the reestablishment of septic requirements that will increase the cost of new home construction.

At the request of Bob Mitchell, the county’s director of environmental programs, the commissioners will send state officials a letter outlining their opposition to the reestablishment of pre-treatment requirements for septic systems outside critical areas. It was just last year the commissioners testified in support of the elimination of the regulation requiring pre-treatment.

“Everyone asked for this to be changed,” Mitchell said.

He told the commissioners that in spite of the fact that the state’s Regulatory Reform Commission had advised Gov. Larry Hogan to eliminate the septic requirement after testimony last year, legislation had recently been introduced to reverse that. Mitchell said the elimination of the requirement had benefited the county and he didn’t want to see the septic requirements reinstated.

“This is going to make building houses more expensive outside the critical area,” he said.

According to Mitchell, new home costs went down $13,000-$15,000 after Hogan’s elimination of the septic requirement. He said the pre-treatment requirements for septic systems outside the county’s critical areas weren’t necessary. He said septic systems had a very small nutrient impact compared to other sources.

“Our load for septic is dwarfed by agriculture,” Mitchell said.

The Maryland Association of Counties has submitted a letter of opposition to the new bill and Mitchell said the Maryland Department of the Environment was looking at taking an active role as well.

Commissioner Jim Bunting echoed Mitchell’s assertions regarding the pre-treatment requirement.

“This is just a political thing,” he said. “The contribution of septic systems is hardly even measurable.”

Mitchell said this was the 12th year in a row septic-related legislation had come up and it was the 12th year in a row the county had objected to it.

“It just doesn’t seem to make fiscal sense,” he said. “It would be entirely on the homeowner to pay for these systems.”

Commissioner Joe Mitrecic agreed.

“This is just another way to stifle new home building in the county, which is probably already at an all-time low,” he said.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

Alternative Text

Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.