By Daniel Menefee

Lighthouse at Sandy Shoal

A new poll found that 62% of rural respondents favored tighter regulations on septic systems, and 57%  favored “limiting the number of septic systems in rural areas.”

The poll of 801 registered voters by Opinion Works in mid-December found statewide support was 72% for tighter septic regulations, and 69% for limiting the number septic systems in the state.

Rural respondents were surveyed in southern and western Maryland counties, as well as the Eastern Shore.

Erik Michelson of the South River Federation said the 62% figure on septic systems in rural areas came from a mix of households on municipal water systems as well as septic, but he said residents of outlying areas where septic was more prevalent still showed greater than 50% support for tighter regulations as well as on paying more into the Bay Restoration Fund.

Nearly two-thirds of Marylanders statewide (63%), support a higher flush tax increase if “state leaders and scientists said more tax dollars were needed,” and if respondents “thought the amount was fair,” according to the survey.

Nearly two-thirds of the respondents said they would support an increase in taxes to “finish upgrading waste-water treatment plants.”

The survey also showed respondents were unaware of the condition of the Bay — 52% said they were surprised that restoration efforts were halfway complete. When respondents learned of the progress, nearly 80% said a greater effort is needed “to finish the job.”

Del. Jay Jacobs, R-Kent, said that not one constituent in his Upper Shore district supports an increase in the flush tax or stricter regulations on septic systems.

“Constituents in my district are strapped right now,” Jacobs said. “I think it is another tax that they can’t absorb at this time.”

Jacobs said the House Environmental Matters Committee was given copies of the poll at Thursday’s hearing on the Chesapeake Bay and said he needed more time to review the data.