Rural Marylanders support tighter regulations on septic systems and taxes for Bay clean-up, poll says

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.

About The Author

Len Lazarick

Len Lazarick was the founding editor and publisher of and is currently the president of its nonprofit corporation and chairman of its board He was formerly the State House bureau chief of the daily Baltimore Examiner from its start in April 2006 to its demise in February 2009. He was a copy editor on the national desk of the Washington Post for eight years before that, and has spent decades covering Maryland politics and government.


  1. Will

    I don’t understand why we can’t just pay more to build a proper sewer system instead of relying on septic tanks. We know that the problem is there but we chose to ignore it and let it happen. Aging and leaking septic tank is a major source of groundwater pollution.

  2. Stan

    Okay… so YOU support the tax… YOU pay it.   The Modern Liberal is a fantastic animal… I support it so EVERYONE has to pay into my idea.
    If you want to do something about the bay… DONATE.  Donate YOUR MONEY… don’t speak for mine.  Good Freaking Grief.

  3. acarbob

    One of the questions asked in the poll:
    “I would like to read you several facts about growth in Maryland ask if they concern you a lot, a little, or not much at all.“New development is the fastest growing source of water pollution in Maryland.”“New development is the fastest growing source of water pollution in Maryland.”
    How can that be a “fact” when all new development is required to use state of the art storm water management techniques?
    Older development is much worse than new. 

  4. Concerned Citizen

    If you
    asked rural residents if they would prefer to pay $10,000 more to replace their
    existing septic with a Bio-Microbic septic system I wonder what the response
    would be. They also may not know that the system is noisy, stinks and does not work if not properly maintained.  How is it that Health Departments allows a potable well to be located
    100′ from a septic system yet they pose a risk to the Chesapeake
    Bay? Bio Microbic septic systems belong in the critical areas
    only. A flush tax is an acceptable solution and can be used to help solve some of the
    Bay’s problems only if the politicians can keep their hands off it.

    • Stan

      The FLUSH TAX – for people who don’t use public sewer is rediculous.  *I* bought my land… *I* paid for my septic system… *I* Paid fees, for inspection, I paid for the installation.   When my system is done processing the waste – it actually HELP the envornment.   I use NO pipes which belong to the city or county… I don’t contribute to their volume of waste… simply – this is just another MONEY GRAB.

      We spent (and continue to spend) too much – so now we have to figure out ways to extort more money.  And what doozies they come up with.  HEY… I GOT AN IDEA… Everyone has to POOP… let’s charge them for that!


      We don’t have a REVENUE PROBLEM in the STATE… we have a SPENDING PROBLEM.  FIX THAT – before asking me for one red cent more.

  5. Shoreman

    Had the question been worded like this, I assure you it would have brought dramatically different results.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         “Most farmers hold their life savings in the equity in their farms.  How many hundreds of thousands of dollars of property rights should each farm family be required to give up in an effort to make a unmeasurably small reduction of Nitrogen?  Would you agree that it would make much more sense and be much fairer to use a more cost effective method of reducing Nitrogen going into the Bay?”

  6. Chris Edwards

    Use All-Natural Advanced Formula Septic-Helper 2000. It has the 8 natural bacteria and enzymes that liquefy the waste in the tank AND out in the drain field. For less than $4 per month.

    Check the septic and water rules in your State and County. In 2011 the EPA TMDL Mandates that States clean up their water supplies. A failed inspection would include a slow drain in your leach field, low bacteria levels or elevated Nitrate levels could require replacement of your entire system for $10,000 to $80,000 or connect to the city sewer system. 2011 Septic, Well & Water News Stories: Twitter MillerPlanteInc Search the News by State: Facebook Miller.Plante

  7. Anonymous

    Poll results depend on the wording of the questions. Just how many of these people provide their own water through a private well? As one who lives with the expenses of both a well & septic, I cannot fathom where the pollsters found these 801 brain dead registered voters that wanted more $$ & government regs to finish the job of restoring the bay. I am already saddled with county health regs that control both the well & septic, not to mention state regs on wetlands designations in the area. So please spare me from even more $$ yanked out of my purse to soothe a guilty conscience from someone who doesn’t have a clue what many MD homeowners/ taxpayers have to endure just to wash their hands or flush the potty! Meanwhile Annapolis raids funds dedicated to restoring the bay to pay for the goodies doled out to protected voters?

  8. Rock Hall Resident

    Wrong, Delegate Jacobs. I am one of many of your taxpaying constituents who support an increase in the flush tax to help restore the Chesapeake Bay. Your shortsighted Bay bashing policies are hurting Kent County’s economy and costing us jobs. No crabs; no crabbing industry. Get it?

  9. party

    and chicken pooh has nothing to do with the problem, guess the special interests are off the hook again.   it pays to be friends with the politicians.


  1. Opinion Poll Finds Public Support for Bay Restoration Fee Increase, Septic Restrictions « Conduit Street - [...] a January 20 Maryland article: Del. Jay Jacobs, R-Kent, said that not one constituent in his Upper Shore district…

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