Senate Bill 320 (Bay Restoration Fund) was signed into law on May 26, 2004. The Chesapeake Bay has experienced a decline in water quality due to over enrichment of nutrients (mainly phosphorus and nitrogen). Effluent from wastewater treatment plants is one of the top three major contributors of nutrients entering the Bay (urban and agricultural runoffs are the other two). The purpose of the bill is to create a dedicated fund, financed by wastewater treatment plant users, to upgrade Maryland’s wastewater treatment plants with enhanced nutrient removal (ENR) technology so they are capable of achieving wastewater effluent quality of 3 mg/l total nitrogen and 0.3 mg/l total phosphorus. In addition, a similar fee paid by septic system users will be utilized to upgrade onsite systems and implement cover crops to reduce nitrogen loading to the Bay. The signing of this bill initiated Maryland’s efforts to further reduce nitrogen and phosphorus loading in the Bay by over 7.5 million pounds of nitrogen per year and over 260 thousand pounds of phosphorus per year, which represent over one-third of Maryland’s commitment under the Chesapeake Bay 2000 Agreement.
During the 2012 legislative session, House Bill 446 doubled the BRF fee for most users served by wastewater treatment plants and those on On-site sewage disposal (septic) systems to $5.00 per month per household/EDU. For wastewater treatment plant users and septic systems not discharging to the to the Chesapeake Bay and Coastal Bay watersheds, the fee remains at the current level of $2.50 per month per household/EDU. HB 446 also requires that BRF fee billing authorities develop a financial hardship fee waiver plan for low income households. For additional information, see Guidance Documents and Frequently Asked Questions.
Wastewater Treatment Plants Fund: Effective July 1, 2012 a $5.00 monthly fee is collected from each home served by a wastewater treatment plant. Commercial and industrial users are charged at the rate of $5.00 per month per equivalent dwelling unit (EDU). Fees from wastewater treatment plant users generate an estimated $100 million per year. To expedite the implementation of the program, the Department issues bonds backed in full or in part by funds generated under this program. The 67 major, publicly owned, facilities discharging to the Chesapeake Bay met the criteria specified by the Bay Restoration Fund and have the priority for funding. The Department may consider other facilities on a case-by-case basis based on the cost effectiveness of the upgrade and other factors. The following process is used for funding of minor and other facilities:
Bay Restoration Fund for Minor and Other WWTPs - Cost Effectiveness Evaluations
BRF-WWTP ENR Upgrade Status
Onsite Disposal Systems Fund: Effective July 1, 2012 a $60 annual fee is collected from each user served by an onsite system. The total estimated program income is $27 million per year. Sixty percent of these funds are used for septic system upgrades and the remaining 40 percent are used for cover crops. There are 420,000 onsite systems in Maryland. With priority given to failing septic systems in Critical Areas, funds can be provided for upgrades of existing systems to best available technology for nitrogen removal or for the marginal cost of using best available technology instead of conventional technology.
Clean Water Commerce Act: The Clean Water Commerce Act (CWCA) passed by the Maryland General Assembly during the 2017 Session (SB314/HB417) expanded the uses of the Bay Restoration Fund to include the costs associated with the purchase of cost-effective nitrogen, phosphorus, or sediment load reductions in support of the State's efforts to restore the health of the Chesapeake Bay, not to exceed $4,000,000 in fiscal year 2018, $6,000,000 in fiscal year 2019, and $10,000,000 in fiscal years 2020 and 2021. The nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment load reductions purchased cannot come from the agriculture sector and must be created by July 1, 2017. MDE may enter into any contract until June 30, 2021 and may be funded for the expected life of the best management practice resulting from nutrient load reduction.
The Maryland Department of Environment (MDE) requested and received proposals on August 2018 and February 2019. The next request for proposals should be expected in March 2020.
Advisory Committee: An advisory committee was formed to evaluate the cost, funding, and effectiveness of the wastewater treatment plant upgrades; consult and advise the counties and the Department regarding the onsite system upgrade program; and recommend future changes to the restoration fee if necessary.
Advisory Committee Meetings
1800 Washington Boulevard, Baltimore, MD 21230