- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley announced on Tuesday the formation of a task force to study septic systems and their impact on pollution.

A panel of more than 25 legislators, local officials, environmentalists, researchers and private citizens will study the effect of septic systems, which officials and environmental groups have said dump nitrogen pollution into waterways at 10 times the rate of facilities connected to public sewer systems.

Mr. O’Malley, a Democrat, pushed unsuccessfully for a bill this legislative session that would have effectively banned septic systems from new housing developments. Many legislators resisted the proposal, including rural representatives who said large portions of their districts did not have access to public systems.

Legislators approved the study as a compromise, and the task force’s findings could lead to similar legislation next year. State officials have set a goal of reducing Chesapeake Bay nitrogen pollution by 21 percent by 2020, in accordance with federal guidelines.

The task force is headed by Delegate Maggie McIntosh, Baltimore Democrat and chair of the House Environmental Matters Committee. Jon Laria, a lawyer and chairman of the Maryland Sustainable Growth Commission, will serve as the task force’s vice chairman. The group must present a final report by Dec. 1 to state officials.

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