A new law proposed by Governor Martin O’Malley would limit construction of homes in rural areas to five in a development, if they were to be on private septic systems.

Smaller, individual developments, of a single home would be required to install more costly but less polluting septic systems than the standard as set currently.

The reason behind these proposed changes is, according to an Baltimore Sun article:

An estimated 430,000 septic systems already are in the ground across Maryland, and officials say that they are responsible for leaking 4 million pounds of water-fouling nitrogen annually into the state’s streams, rivers and ultimately the bay. Officials project that as many as 145,000 more septic systems could be installed in the next 20 years, if home construction recovers to anything like what it used to be.

A septic system collects the solids from domestic sewage and kills disease-causing bacteria, but it allows much of the nitrogen in the treated wastewater to leach into nearby streams or ground water.

Households on conventional septic systems release up to 10 times as much of the pollutant into nearby waters as do households connected to much more efficient sewage treatment plants, state environmental officials say.

These limitations and systems would reduce some of the 8% of nitrogens found in the Bay that come from traditional septic systems. Anne Arundel County’s septic systems produce 35-40% of all nitrogens found in the waterways, which is the bigger subset of the problem.

This could potentially hurt new developments especially in Harford County and many areas of Baltimore County, where many neighborhoods are serviced by private sewage systems. It could hurt house values in those areas, because the more expensive systems could make those areas possibly unaffordable to many potential homeowners.

If you have concerns about the proposed law changes, make sure to call Governor O’Malley’s office at 410.974.3901 to voice your concern.