State Flush Fee Exemption Results in Continued Savings for Ocean Pines Sanitary Service Area Users


The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) has confirmed that those who live in the Ocean Pines Sanitary Service Area (SSA) are exempt from paying the $5.00 monthly charge into the Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund (BRF). Back in January, the County informed MDE the requirements for the exemption had been met. This exemption will result in an annual savings of $60 per household in the Ocean Pines SSA.

Additional Information from Worcester County Commissioners:

“It’s always our goal to achieve the BRF exemption and keep costs low for residents,” Public Works Director Dallas Baker said. “Public Works Water & Wastewater staff worked hard to increase the storage capacity of our chemical reserves, so shortages, like the one that triggered the BRF last year, do not happen again.”

Commonly referred to as the Flush Fee, the BRF is a dedicated fund financed by residents and businesses served by wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) throughout the State of Maryland. Legislation creating the fee was signed into law in 2004 with Senate Bill 320, and the first fees were charged in 2005. BRF funds are used to upgrade publicly-owned WWTPs throughout Maryland, with enhanced nutrient removal (ENR) technology to reduce nutrient discharges to the state’s waterways. The BRF began at $2.50 per month per household, or per equivalent dwelling unit (EDU), starting on July 1, 2005 and increased to $5.00 per month on July 1, 2012. Onsite septic system users throughout the state began paying a similar $5.00 fee per month in 2012 as well, with funds used to upgrade failing septic systems in the Critical Areas with Best Available Technology for nutrient reduction.

The Ocean Pines WWTP is equipped with ENR technology, meeting 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. Nitrogen is a natural element found in the earth and in the atmosphere. It is a vital component of life for many organisms, but too much nitrogen in our waterways can be harmful. Excess nitrogen can cause algal blooms, which deplete the oxygen from the river that fish and other aquatic life need to survive.

BRF exemptions are valid for one year and must be renewed annually.