Healthy People in a Healthy Environment

Press Release: New Septic System Regulations

Bel Air, MD – December 13, 2012 – The Harford County Health Department reminds the public that, effective January 1, 2013, any On-site Sewage Disposal System (OSDS) will be required to have a Best Available Technology (BAT).  The BAT units will cost substantially more than the conventional concrete septic tanks that are currently required.

On September 21, 2012, The Maryland Register (Volume 39, Issue 19) published a final action on Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) 26.04.02 that takes effect on January 1, 2013.  Several changes to the regulation are cited in the code, the most significant of which requires new residential and non-residential construction to install a nitrogen reducing component also known as “Best Available Technology” (BAT). Current MDE negotiated prices under the Bay Restoration Fund Program range between $11,000 and $14,000 for the additional septic system component required by this new regulation.

“The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) introduced these regulations to curb nitrogen pollution to the Chesapeake Bay,” states Kevin Barnaba, Director of the Harford County Health Department Bureau of Environmental Health.  Mr. Barnaba also reiterated that this regulation applies only to new or upgraded systems and does not apply to repairs for failing septic systems.

MDE estimates that 420,000 septic systems each introduce 24 pounds of nitrogen per year into state waters. That compares to about 2 pounds per household connected to sewer systems with enhanced nutrient management systems.

A “grandfathering” policy was established by MDE allowing any property owner who obtains a septic system construction permit for new construction or additions prior to the effective date of January 1, 2013 to be exempt from the requirement to install the BAT component.  In order to be “grandfathered” from this regulation in Harford County, an on-site sewage disposal permit (OSDS permit) must be issued by December 28, 2012.  All applications for OSDS permits after this date must comply with the new regulations.  An on-site sewage disposal system must be installed within one year from the date the permit is issued.

For more information about the new regulations visit the Harford County Health Department website at or direct questions to the Bureau of Environmental Health at 410-877-2300.



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