For the fourteenth consecutive year, the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) has exempted residents in the Ocean Pines Sanitary Service Area (SSA) from paying the $5.00 monthly charge into the Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund (BRF). This exemption will result in an annual savings of $60 per household in the Ocean Pines SSA.
“Exemption from the BRF fees reflect years of investment in the Ocean Pines Wastewater Treatment Plant made by the service area customers, without state or federal assistance, and the skill of the plant operators to operate the plant to meet the mandated treatment goals,” Public Works Deputy Director John Ross said.
Commonly referred to as the Flush Fee, the BRF is a dedicated fund financed by residents and businesses served by wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) throughout the State of Maryland. Legislation creating the fee was signed into law in 2004 with Senate Bill 320, and the first fees were charged in 2005. BRF funds are used to upgrade publicly-owned WWTPs throughout Maryland, with enhanced nutrient removal (ENR) technology to reduce nutrient discharges to the state’s waterways. The BRF began at $2.50 per month per household, or per equivalent dwelling unit (EDU), starting on July 1, 2005 and increased to $5.00 per month on July 1, 2012. Onsite septic system users throughout the state began paying a similar $5.00 fee per month in 2012 as well, with funds used to upgrade failing septic systems in the Critical Areas with Best Available Technology for nutrient reduction.
The Ocean Pines WWTP is equipped with ENR technology, meeting the criteria for the fee exemption, which requires a maximum effluent concentration of 3 milligrams per liter (mg/l) of total nitrogen and 0.3 mg/l total phosphorous. Nitrogen is a natural element found in the earth and in the atmosphere. It is a vital component of life for many organisms, but too much nitrogen in our waterways can be harmful. Excess nitrogen can cause algal blooms, which deplete the oxygen from the river that fish and other aquatic life need to survive.
BRF exemptions are valid for one year and must be renewed annually. For more information, please contact Kim Moses, public information officer, at 410-632-1194.