Lawmakers and representatives of Maryland's county and municipal governments sparred Tuesday over a pair of bills in
One measure, SB289, sponsored by Sen.
The other, SB302, put in by Simonaire and Sen.
Simonaire explained to his fellow members of the Senate Education, Health & Environmental Affairs Committee that he introduced the bills out of frustration with regular reports of sewage overflows, sewer line ruptures and wastewater treatment plant malfunctions that he said resulted iln "hundreds of millions of gallons going into our local water ways." He noted that by this time last year, there had been a single 50 million gallon spill into the
Glassman said stiffer penalties and more publicity of sewage spills seemed only fair when the state is cracking down on septic systems and tightening regulations of farmers.
"We simply are not going to make pregress when losing that amount of seage into the bay,'' he said. Joining him to support the bill was Valerie Connelly of the Maryland Farm Bureau.
"We're already struggling with our wastewater treatment plants...with no help from the state," said Candace Donoho, legislative director for the municipal league. She and Leslie Knapp of the counties group contended that the state already is plenty aggressive about fining local governments for sewage spills.
Donoho said municipal officials complain the fines they have to pay just go into an MDE "slush fund" and that any increase in penalties would do nothing more than generate more revenue for the state.
"I don't know of any jurisdiction that has intentional released a big sewage spill," he said.
According to a fiscal note prepared by the Department of Legislative Services, MDE has become more aggressive since 2009 in fining local governments for sewage spills. The agency has collected about $1.1 million since July of that year for overflows.
Data available online at MDE show there were 1,775 sewage overflows reported last year, including 39 overflows of one million gallons or more. That's down from 94 overflows of at least one million gallons in 2011. A third of last year's large overflows were blamed on