ANNAPOLIS,MD (April 29, 2005) - Governor Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr., today announced that more than $7.1 million has been collected in the first quarter of 2005, representing revenue collections from 175 owners of wastewater treatment facilities towards the Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund, according to figures from the State Comptroller’s Office.
"The revenue from this historic effort is enabling us to make future generations proud to call Maryland home of the Chesapeake Bay," said Governor Ehrlich. "I applaud Comptroller Schaefer and the State Comptroller’s Office work with the Maryland Department of the Environment for getting this program up and running so quickly.”
Proposed by the Ehrlich Administration and approved by the General Assembly in the 2004 Legislative Session, the Bay Restoration Fund is the most innovative environmental legislation in the past two and a half decades and has the potential to improve nitrogen removal from wastewater treatment plant effluent to state-of-the-art levels. When all 66 of the state's major wastewater plants are upgraded with use of the fund, the impact will be a 7.5 million pound annual reduction in nitrogen. Excess nutrients, like nitrogen and phosphorus, lead to degraded water quality, which negatively impact the ecology of the Bay and its tributaries.
Collected in $7.50 per quarter increments from wastewater system customers, the fund is estimated to generate $60 million per year to help finance approximately $750 million in capital improvements. Beginning October 1, 2005, septic system or other on-site sewage disposal owners will begin paying their $30 annual fee to the fund, which is projected to bring in another $12 million per year to upgrade septic systems and provide funding for cover crops. Much of the first quarter collections occurred after March 31, 2005, and will be included in the second quarter receipts, which should reflect ongoing efforts to reach the $60 million annual goal.
The Maryland Department of the Environment's fiscal year 2006 budget includes $35 million in capital improvements using dollars from the fund. The fee went into effect January 1, 2005, and the first quarterly deposits were due to the State Comptroller’s Office by April 20, 2005.