Ehrlich: $7.1 million collected for bay restoration

Fund aims to improve nitrogen removal in wastewater treatment plants

April 29, 2005|By Jessica Bylander | Jessica Bylander,Special to baltimoresun.com

More than $7.1 million in revenue has been collected this year from 175 owners of wastewater treatment facilities as part of the Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. announced today.

"The revenue from this historic effort is enabling us to make future generations proud to call Maryland home of the Chesapeake Bay," Ehrlich said in a statement. "I applaud Comptroller Schaefer and the state comptroller office's work with the Maryland Department of the Environment for getting this program up and running so quickly."

Approved by the General Assembly in the 2004 legislative session, the bay restoration fund aims to improve nitrogen removal in wastewater treatment plants. Excess nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus can degrade water quality, harming the ecology of the bay and its tributaries. According to the governor's office, upgrading the state's 66 major wastewater plants will lead to an annual 7.5 million-pound reduction in nitrogen.

Officials estimate that the fund will generate $60 million per year, collected from wastewater system customers in increments of $7.50 per quarter.

The fund will help finance about $750 million in capital improvements, the governor's office said. The Maryland Department of the Environment's budget for fiscal year 2006 includes $35 million in capital improvements using money from the fund.

Owners of septic systems or other on-site sewage disposal systems will pay an annual $30 fee to the fund starting Oct. 1, which is expected to contribute another $12 million per year to upgrade septic systems and provide funding for cover crops, the governor's office said.

The fee went into effect Jan. 1, with the first quarterly deposit due by April 20. Most first-quarter collections took place after March 31 and will be included in the second quarter receipts, according to officials.

April 29, 2005, 2:57 PM EDT

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