Progress Down on the Farm
Newtonian Theory: Abolish EPA.

MD Governor Proposes Ban on Major Developments With Septic Systems

Sprawl Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley made a bold and laudable move against suburban sprawl recently by proposing a ban on major developments hooked up to septic systems. These leak more pollution into the Chesapeake Bay than projects with sewer systems. During his "state of the state" speech on Thursday, O'Malley said the Chesapeake would be helped by eliminating systems which "by their very design are intended to leak sewage ultimately into our bay and into our water tables ...This is common sense; this is urgently needed."

Developers blasted the idea. But CBF Maryland Executive Director Kim Coble praised it, saying: "All the progress we hope to make in reducing pollution from other sources — wastewater treatment plants, urban and suburban streets, coal plants, cars, farms — all could be undone if we continue to allow sprawl growth using septic systems in our rural areas."

The Baltimore Sun editorial page on February 7 praised Governor O'Malley's proposal, describing it as a "bold, if necessary, step in preserving Maryland's water quality."

"Make no mistake, a ban on large-scale septic-based development is not a vote for 'no growth' but for smart growth," the newspaper wrote. "Instead of busting up farm fields, this measure would steer developers toward focusing on revitalizing older neighborhoods and building in areas served by public water and sewer. That may be as significant a result of this law as the reduction of nitrogen itself."

"Meanwhile, legislators should also endorse a separate proposal to require enhanced septic tanks (which can reduce nitrogen discharge) for all new homes and businesses where public sewer is unavailable. The technology is already required of homes and businesses built along the waterfront."

"Together, these measures could make a real difference in protecting the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. And without such changes, the concept of smart growth in this state will continue to be nothing more than a pipe dream as Maryland continues to lose farms and open spaces to unchecked development sprawl," the newspaper wrote.



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