The following was received from the office of Del. Rick Impallaria:
First, I want to thank all of you for your kind words of support during this stressful session, and for allowing me to keep you informed on matters of importance to all Maryland citizens.
This is our last day of session this year, and fortunately the lunacy will end at midnight. Unfortunately, late last week this bill passed both houses, the Senate by only one vote. I refer to Senate Bill 554, the Chesapeake Bay “Nitrogen Reduction” Act of 2009 and its cross-file, House Bill 176, the “Bay Restoration” Act of 2009.
Despite their fine-sounding names (and they are the same bill), designed to disguise their real effect, this bill will not really help to clean up the Bay. What it does do is to put the blame for excess nitrogen in Bay waters on homes with septic systems near the Bay coastline. As a homeowner with a septic system, and as a home builder with many years experience, I know that the effluent from maintained septic tanks is pretty much clean water. Those of us who live near the Bay do so because we enjoy it, and I would say we are the ones who most want to see it healthy. But in our House floor debate on the issue I heard the bill’s proponents vilify and demonize septic tank owners as if they were the very worst polluters in the world. Waterfront residents of Baltimore, Harford, Cecil, Anne Arundel, Charles, St. Mary’s, Calvert Counties and the entire Eastern Shore are to blame for the Bay’s problems. This bill would add $8,000 to $20,000 (estimates vary) over and above normal cost for septic tank services. The bill’s proponents say that the State will pay that cost (or reimburse the homeowner), but the State can’t pay its bills now. How is it going to be able to afford this program? Most of the Departments of Health in the counties were against this bill.
According to my understanding, there are three main sources of nitrogen pollution. One is sewer treatment plants. Gov. Ehrlich tried to pass legislation to update our sewer plants, but the majority party turned it into the infamous “flush tax”. And they now have diverted these funds away from sewer plant updating. Another effective program for Bay clean up is the Cover Crop Program and again, this program is not going to receive proper funding. The third main source comes from upstream. The east branch of the Susquehanna River rises in Cooperstown, New York and the west branch near Erie, Pennsylvania. Everything that enters the river along its hundreds of miles eventually ends up in the Bay. The State should be lobbying Pennsylvania and New York State legislators to begin educational and environmental programs in their respective states similar to the ones Maryland already has in place. But instead, leadership blames the people who have the least impact.
This is why you need to contact the Office of Governor O’Malley and ask him to veto these bills, HB 176 and SB 554. You may do this via the Governor’s website www.gov.state.md.us, by phone 410-974-3901, by fax 410-974-3275, or by mail, Office of the Governor, State House, 100 State Circle, Annapolis, MD 21401.
Thank you for being a concerned citizen.
Delegate, District 7 (Baltimore and Harford Counties)