Baltimore area residents get stuck if flush tax fails

Residents of Baltimore City and some suburban counties should know they could well see their sewer rates increase significantly in order to pay for the upgrade of the giant Back River sewage plant if the state legislature doesn't approve the proposed increase to the so-called "flush tax."

The flush tax was created to pay for improvements at the state's 67 largest sewage plants. But the fee hasn't brought in enough revenue to finish that job, and Back River upgrades will be in a financial jam without a fee increase.

The Back River plant must be upgraded to meet state and federal permits. Those upgrades would reduce nitrogen pollution discharges at the plant by over two million pounds a year. That would be a huge reduction of pollution to the upper Chesapeake. Back River is the biggest single source of nitrogen pollution within Maryland.

Officials with the Bay Restoration Fund Advisory Committee have floated the possibility of local users picking up the cost of the Back River upgrade if legislators don't approve a fee increase. Baltimore area residents have paid into the sewage fund for years. That money has helped other plants get improvements, a few of them local. They shouldn't have to shoulder more of the cost of the Back River improvements than originally planned.

Alison Prost, Annapolis

The writer is Maryland executive director of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
Related Content
  • What about Pa. manure?
    What about Pa. manure?

    On an almost recurring basis lately, The Sun has devoted itself to bringing to everyone's attention the Eastern Shore poultry industry's polluted runoff flowing into the Chesapeake Bay ("Larry Hogan has a chance to be a green governor," Dec. 13). Attention should be directed to the Amish...

  • Hogan can protect farms and open space
    Hogan can protect farms and open space

    Congratulations to Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan on his inauguration. Mr. Hogan ran a terrific campaign, and we all look forward to his leadership on one of the most important roles, safeguarding the lands and waters of this beautiful state.

  • New rules needed to protect Eastern Shore waterways

    After talking about it for years, Maryland finally has proposed long-overdue regulations on phosphorous pollution from animal manure in the Chesapeake Bay ("Hogan vows to fight farm pollution rules," Dec. 8).

  • Big Ag must be held to account for bay pollution

    Dan Rodricks' arguments for protecting the Chesapeake Bay from pollution from chicken farms could have been even stronger ("Larry Hogan has a chance to be a green governor," Dec. 13).

  • Kamenetz is pandering on stormwater fees
    Kamenetz is pandering on stormwater fees

    Thank your for your recent article, "Reduced stormwater fees sought," (Jan. 17) and the editorial covering the same topics ("Backtracking on the bay," Jan. 22). Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz seems to be pandering to special interests and positioning himself for higher office. His...

  • Md. leaders protect funds for bay cleanup
    Md. leaders protect funds for bay cleanup

    Senators Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin, along with Rep. Steny Hoyer, deserve our thanks for securing funding in the recent omnibus appropriations bill to keep Maryland on track to cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers and streams ("For better or worse, spending bill passes," Dec. 15).

  • Excess phosphorous is killing the bay

    In the days following Dan Rodricks' column "Larry Hogan has a chance to be a green governor" (Dec. 13), your paper has been flooded with letters opposing the phosphorus management tool (PMT) regulations and opposing Mr. Rodricks position. On the surface it would seem that both letters in...

  • Rodricks wrong on bay pollution

    It is time for those writing for The Sun's editorial pages to check their facts. Columnist Dan Rodricks writes that poultry farmers are allowing their chicken manure to run into the Chesapeake Bay ("Larry Hogan has a chance to be a green governor," Dec. 13.

Comments
Loading