County wastewater treatment plant in Ocean Pines earns renewed exemption from State Flush Fee

In response to a request from the Worcester County Commissioners, the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) exempted residents in the Greater Ocean Pines Sanitary Service Area (SSA) from paying the $5.00 monthly charge into the Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund (BRF).

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. 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), in 2005. That fee increased to $5.00 per month in 2012. Onsite septic system users throughout the state began paying a similar $5.00 fee per month in 2012 as well, and the funds are used to upgrade failing septic systems in the Critical Areas with Best Available Technology for nutrient reduction.

“The Ocean Pines WWTP is a good neighbor,” Public Works Director John Tustin said. “This plant receives annual recognition in the form of the BRF waiver for consistently exceeding the State-mandated BRF goals without using state or federal grant funding. It is the only publicly-owned WWTP in the State that is exempt from paying Bay Restoration Fees.”

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, and setting the standard throughout the state for environmental stewardship.

“The Ocean Pines WWTP has met the criteria for exemption each year since the BRF was enacted, resulting in a savings of nearly $4 million to the Ocean Pines SSA residents and businesses since inception of the fee,” Enterprise Fund Controller Jessica Wilson said.

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.