Ocean Pines Sewer Bills to Increase by $15 as State Considers Fate of Flush Fee Exemption


If you live in the Ocean Pines Sanitary Service Area (SSA), first-quarter water and wastewater bills will include a $15 quarterly Bay Restoration Fee (BRF), while state officials consider whether to grant the area an exemption from the fee for calendar year 2023. In the event that MDE issues the exemption prior to the release of water and wastewater bills on Friday, March 31, the $15 fee will not be included. BRF exemptions are valid for one year and must be renewed annually. For more information, please contact the Worcester County Public Works Water and Wastewater Division at (410) 641-5251.

Additional Information from the Worcester County Government Press Release:

In January, Worcester County officials provided evidence to Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) officials that the Ocean Pines Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) had met all state requirements for the prior calendar year and, therefore, requested SSA ratepayers be exempt from the BRF for 2023. If MDE officials confirm the Ocean Pines SSA is exempt from the BRF after the first quarter bills are sent out, a refund will be issued to these customers.

Commonly referred to as the Flush Tax, the BRF is a dedicated fund financed by residents and businesses and used to upgrade publicly-owned WWTPs throughout Maryland, with enhanced nutrient removal (ENR) technology. This technology drastically reduces nutrient discharges to the state’s waterways.

The Ocean Pines WWTP meets the criteria for the fee exemption, which requires a maximum effluent concentration of 3 milligrams per liter (mg/l) of total nitrogen and 0.3 mg/l total phosphorous and was not constructed using federal or state monies. Nitrogen and phosphorus are natural elements found in the earth and in the atmosphere. They are vital components of life for many organisms, but too much of either in area waterways can be harmful. Excess nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorus, can cause algal blooms, which deplete the oxygen from the river that fish and other aquatic life need to survive. In addition to the environmental benefits, the plant’s ENR technology saves Ocean Pines SSA ratepayers more than $550,000 annually for each year that MDE grants the BRF exemption.