Annapolis, MD ( June 21, 2011 ) – Governor O’Malley today named a broad cross-section of representatives from business, agriculture, science, environmental advocacy and government from throughout Maryland to study the issue of the use of on-site sewage disposal systems, commonly known as septic systems. The Executive Order creating the Task Force on Sustainable Growth and Wastewater Disposal followed a vigorous debate on the issue during the 2011 legislative session over the Sustainable Growth and Agricultural Preservation Act ( SB 846 and HB 1107 ).
“I am charging this task force with examining this issue in greater depth and we look forward to its conclusions,” said Governor O’Malley. “We must continue the progress we are making toward restoring the Chesapeake Bay and other waterways. This effort is not about stopping growth – it is about stemming the tide of major housing developments built on septic systems to generate clean water and protect our environment and public health.”
Delegate Maggie McIntosh, Chair of the House Environmental Matters Committee, will lead the Task Force on Sustainable Growth and Wastewater Disposal. Jon Laria, partner in the law firm of Ballard Spahr and Chair of the Maryland Sustainable Growth Commission, will serve as vice chair.
Other members are Erik Fisher, land use planner with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation; Fred Tutman, executive director of the Patuxent Riverkeepers and a member of the Patuxent River Commission; Robert Mitchell, administrator of the Environmental Programs Division of Worcester County; C.R. Bailey, vice president of Marrick Properties; Worcester County Commissioner Madison “Jimmy” Bunting, Jr.; Rob Etgen, executive director of the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy; Pat Langenfelder, president of the Maryland Farm Bureau; Talbot County farmer Richard Hutchinson; Jim Rapp, executive director of Delmarva Low-Impact Tourism Experiences; Robert Sheesley, owner of Eco-Sense Inc. environmental consultancy; Dr. Kelton ( Kelly ) Clark, director of the Morgan State University Estuarine Research Center in St. Leonard and chair of the Patuxent River Commission; attorney Brian Hammock of Venable LLC; and Robin Truiett-Theodorson, member and former president of the Abell Improvement Association.
Additional members, as specified in the Executive Order, are State Senator Paul G. Pinsky of Prince George’s County, lead sponsor of SB 846; Senator David R. Brinkley of Frederick County; Delegate Maggie McIntosh of Baltimore City; Delegate Steve Lafferty of Baltimore County, lead sponsor of HB 1107; Secretary of Planning Richard Eberhart Hall; Secretary of the Environment Robert M. Summers; Secretary of Agriculture Earl ( Buddy ) Hance; Secretary of Natural Resources John Griffin; Margaret McHale, chair of the Critical Area Commission; Bel Air Mayor David Carey and Frederick Planning Director Joe Adkins ( both representing the Maryland Municipal League ); Caroline County Planning Director Katheleen Freeman and Anne Arundel County Councilman Chris Trumbauer ( both representing the Maryland Association of Counties ), and Russ Brinsfield, executive director of the Harry R. Hughes Center for Agro-Ecology in Queenstown.
During the next 25 years, new Maryland residential developments relying on septic systems are expected to account for 26 percent of new households, but 76 percent of new nitrogen pollution. Nitrogen is the most damaging pollutant in the Chesapeake Bay and Maryland’s waterways. To comply with the Bay “pollution diet” set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Maryland must reduce nitrogen pollution 21 percent by 2020. Development on septic systems also fragments vital agricultural and forest lands and fuels dispersed land consumption, resulting in increased public costs and the need for additional roads, schools and other public services beyond the State’s growth areas. The Task Force is to report its findings by December 1, 2011 to the Governor, the Speaker of the House, the President of the Senate, and the House Environmental Matters Committee and the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee.