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NEWS
By TOM HORTON | April 10, 1993
Just east of the little creek where I live is the town of Salisbury, and the sewage treatment plant there spends considerable money complying with tough standards on discharges to Chesapeake Bay.To the west of us are mostly farms -- grain and poultry operations -- and the pressure is stepping up smartly on the farmers to keep their manure from running into the bay.But we suburbanites, who increasingly live and flush between sewer and farm, are most likely...
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NEWS
February 14, 2013
As "tractorcade" protests go, the demonstration of farmers and farm vehicles in Annapolis on Tuesday morning was a modest affair with a handful of old-fashioned tractors and some equally well-worn grievances. The timetable may have been a little off, too, since the protesters' collective ire was directed at a law that the General Assembly passed last year. Nevertheless, the group of farmers assembled at the State House to support legislation that would repeal the Sustainable Growth and Agricultural Preservation Act of 2012 - or, as most people know it, Gov. Martin O'Malley's septics bill.
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NEWS
By Liz Atwood and Liz Atwood,Staff Writer | December 12, 1993
The wind blows through the cattails and bulrushes, deer peer from the forest and a red fox watches from a den burrowed into a hill on 100 acres in southern Anne Arundel County that is essentially a sewage treatment plant.It is the Mayo Peninsula Water Reclamation Facility, where rancid-smelling water from household septic tanks is turned into clean, odorless water without the roar of aerators and the hum of ventilators."Instead of hearing machines, you hear only the wind," said facility manager Gregory J. Swartz as he looked over a plot of marsh grasses.
NEWS
By Tom Horton | January 3, 2013
We who make our living lamenting the lack of progress on improving the environment must applaud when progress does rear its head, even as we refrain from clapping too hard. A decade ago, there wasn't much of anything hopeful to say about septic tanks from the bay's standpoint. I called them "outhouse technology in the 21st century" and "a 50-year-old grossly polluting waste system. " Septic tanks had mostly fulfilled their original purpose of protecting human health where central sewers weren't available by filtering bacteria in household waste through the soil.
NEWS
By Tom Horton | January 3, 2013
We who make our living lamenting the lack of progress on improving the environment must applaud when progress does rear its head, even as we refrain from clapping too hard. A decade ago, there wasn't much of anything hopeful to say about septic tanks from the bay's standpoint. I called them "outhouse technology in the 21st century" and "a 50-year-old grossly polluting waste system. " Septic tanks had mostly fulfilled their original purpose of protecting human health where central sewers weren't available by filtering bacteria in household waste through the soil.
NEWS
By Tom Horton | August 8, 2011
Imagine if one of our major automakers proposed a model line of gas-wasting, air-fouling vehicles that used 60-year-old technology. Unthinkable, of course. Yet it's little different than what homebuilders and developers propose when they plan most new rural subdivisions. Their outdated model lineup combines sprawl development - a hugely wasteful use of land - with septic tanks, the highest-polluting form of waste treatment, largely unimproved for more than half a century. Proposals to change this - most lately, Gov. Martin O'Malley's attempt to ban most development on septic tanks - are met with predictable cries from builders and land speculators.
NEWS
By Sheridan Lyons and Sheridan Lyons,Staff Writer | February 25, 1992
Employing some of the last federal construction money available under the Clean Water Act, Baltimore County plans to install a $2.4 million sewer system to replace failing septic tanks at Cedar Beach on the Back River Peninsula.County Director of Public Works Gene L. Neff said a 70 percent failure rate for individual septic tanks makes the area "the worst in the lower Back River Peninsula."There are 190 homes in Cedar Beach, a community near the intersection of Holly Neck and Back River Neck roads and extending to the waterfront at Sue Creek and Middle River.
NEWS
BY A SUN STAFF WRITER | March 12, 2004
After what officials called a positive meeting with residents of Union Mills and Silver Run, Carroll County will undertake a preliminary study to determine whether the area needs a public sewer system. In both communities north of Westminster, failing septic tanks have created problems, said Ed Singer, director of the county Health Department's environmental health division. Many septic tanks and treatment systems in the two communities are older, on smaller lots and difficult to repair, he said.
NEWS
November 20, 1991
About 10 septic waste haulers expressed concerns about plans for operating a treatment facility and the county's proposed rates for dumping the waste at a meeting with county planners Monday.The 9-cents-per-gallon dumping fee proposed by the county would be passed from waste haulers to owners of private septic tanks, which should be pumped at least once every three years for residences and once per year for commercial establishments.Septic tanks that aren't pumped regularly can cause ground water and land contamination.
NEWS
March 2, 2011
In recent years, the Maryland General Assembly has approved legislation curbing power plant emissions, agreed to impose stricter standards on automobile emissions and gave environmental groups standing to legally contest government-issued permits and variances. What do all these decisions have in common? All are important environmental initiatives, but more to the point, all required more than one 90-day session to pass. In the case of legal standing, it took a decade worth of legislative sessions before lawmakers worked out a compromise that satisfied a majority.
FEATURES
By Timothy B. Wheeler, The Baltimore Sun | April 10, 2012
While others found much to criticize about this year's General Assembly, environmental activists hailed it Tuesday as the most significant in decades for advancing long-running efforts to restore the Chesapeake Bay. In a year when lawmakers balked at raising taxes or fees for other purposes, they approved the doubling of a "flush fee" for fixing up Maryland's sewage treatment plants and ordered the state's largest communities to levy fees on...
NEWS
February 27, 2012
In response to the letter to the editor about septic tank owners getting off easy on the flush tax, it should be said that septic owners get nothing out of this tax ("O'Malley flush tax proposal goes easy on septic owners," Feb. 22). We just have to pay it. I'm sure the majority of septic tank owners would love to have sewer and water lines. I have inquired about this over the years and the answer from our representatives is always that "it's too expensive. " Well, a new septic system runs around $24,000.
FEATURES
Tim Wheeler | February 14, 2012
Gov. Martin O'Malley's retooled proposal to limit development on septic tanks gets a hearing in Annapolis today, along with his other major green initiatives - increasing the "flush fee" to fix wastewater treatment plants and providing ratepayer subsidies to boost offshore wind energy projects. Lawmakers will hear from the governor on all three measures, but also from environmental and smart-growth activists, local officials, farmers and developers. Among those making a case for curbing low-density development on septics will be the Queen Anne's Conservation Association, which commissioned a study of growth trends in the Eastern Shore county just across the Bay Bridge from Annapolis.   You can view a YouTube summary of the study by Washington College here: Opposing the bill will be rural and some suburban officials, development and farming groups.  Interestingly, the Maryland Association of Counties, traditionally skeptical and even resistant of any state Smart Growth proposal, has decided to support the bill with amendments.  That may signify some support for the curbs among the more urban of the suburban counties, or it could be a ruse to appear supportive while proposing changes that effectively gut the legislation.  Carroll County 's commissioners, among the most vehemently opposed to any state role in curbing septics or limiting sprawl, take a hard line.  Richard Rothschild, vice president of the commissioners,...
NEWS
December 12, 2011
In a recent letter to the editor Richard Rothschild's argument that state officials' policy on septic systems is based on politics rather than science doesn't square with the facts ("Carroll commissioner: MDE is cooking the books on septics," Dec. 4). The Maryland Department of Planning and the Maryland Department of the Environment used the best available scientific data modeling available in our analysis. Typical septic systems release 23.2 pounds of nitrogen from wastewater per household into the environment.
EXPLORE
August 9, 2011
Harford Community College is moving ahead with construction of its new wastewater treatment plant, regardless of whether it gets funding from the county for the project. Members of the college's board of trustees voted at their meeting Tuesday evening to award a contract for $3,653,172 to JLW Associates, of Leonardtown, as contractors for the construction of the school's wastewater treatment plant and associated infrastructure development. The approval carries a risk, however, as HCC is still waiting on $1.275 million in county funding.
NEWS
By Tom Horton | August 8, 2011
Imagine if one of our major automakers proposed a model line of gas-wasting, air-fouling vehicles that used 60-year-old technology. Unthinkable, of course. Yet it's little different than what homebuilders and developers propose when they plan most new rural subdivisions. Their outdated model lineup combines sprawl development - a hugely wasteful use of land - with septic tanks, the highest-polluting form of waste treatment, largely unimproved for more than half a century. Proposals to change this - most lately, Gov. Martin O'Malley's attempt to ban most development on septic tanks - are met with predictable cries from builders and land speculators.
NEWS
By Donna Boller | November 13, 1992
CARROLL Countians have resented Baltimore City for much of this century. So when they drive by the golden domes of the new digesters at the city's Back River Waste Water Treatment Plant, they can chuckle over the fact some of the stuff being digested comes from their own septic tanks.How does waste from rural Carroll, far to the west of Baltimore, get to Back River,to the east? Through the underground, literally and figuratively. Baltimore County, a buffer between Carroll and the city with plenty of its own waste, figures in the story.
NEWS
By Michael S. Derby and Michael S. Derby,CONTRIBUTING WRITER | July 9, 1997
Baltimore County environmental inspectors will begin searching today for the source of the bacterial contamination that has forced the shutdown of Miami Beach Park's swimming area.County officials said yesterday that the problem, triggered by water-borne fecal coliform bacteria, could have come from waterfowl, area septic tanks or other sources near the beach on the Chesapeake Bay. Results of the survey are expected by the end of the week; a decision on whether to reopen the beach, which closed Monday, could come early next week.
NEWS
March 2, 2011
In recent years, the Maryland General Assembly has approved legislation curbing power plant emissions, agreed to impose stricter standards on automobile emissions and gave environmental groups standing to legally contest government-issued permits and variances. What do all these decisions have in common? All are important environmental initiatives, but more to the point, all required more than one 90-day session to pass. In the case of legal standing, it took a decade worth of legislative sessions before lawmakers worked out a compromise that satisfied a majority.
NEWS
February 6, 2011
For 150 years, the technology of the septic system has been little changed. It remains a large tank where household waste is deposited; sediments accumulate at the bottom while liquids are allowed to slowly drain into the soil. When working properly, septic systems protect human health from pathogens and allow rural areas to support housing and other types of development. But tanks and drainage fields do little to prevent nitrogen from leaching into the groundwater. The environmental consequences on local streams and rivers of that shortcoming can be significant — septic systems account for an estimated 3.6 million pounds of nitrogen poured into the Chesapeake Bay each year.
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