Society

Maryland Considers Increasing Fee to Flush Toilet

| by Michael Allen

In Maryland, a task force is considering doubling or tripling, the state's toilet flush fee.

The Task Force on Sustainable Growth and Wastewater Disposal might raise the fee to $60 in 2013 and $90 in 2015. The flush fee, or Bay Restoration Fund, currently amounts to $30 per year for homeowners.

The task force says that more money needs to be raised to modernize sewage plants, upgrade septic systems and fix stormwater problems.

The task force was created following Gov. Martin O'Malley failed attempt this year to pass laws limiting housing developments. It includes politicians, environmentalists, farmers and others with a stake in cleaning up the bay.

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By the end of the year, the task force plans to decide on recommendations to the governor, who may try to get them passed during the 2012 General Assembly session.

Money now collected from homes on public sewer systems pays for sewage plant improvements.

Money collected from homes on private septic tanks helps homeowners pay for upgraded septic systems and helps farmers pay for winter cover crops that suck harmful nutrients out of the soil.

The task force is also considering whether Maryland should rethink its plans to comply with federal pollution rules in 2020, five years ahead of the federal government's schedule.