County Council approves water, sewer plan amendment, easing site restrictions

Dorchester Banner/Dorchester County Department of Environmental Health At the Sept. 6 meeting of the Dorchester County Council, the council unanimously approved Resolution No. 590 which will change a groundwater management area map to ease septic system regulations in the affected areas. Those areas are marked in pink and green stripes. The Maryland Department of the Environment must also approve the change for the resolution to become effective.

Dorchester Banner/Dorchester County Department of Environmental Health
At the Sept. 6 meeting of the Dorchester County Council, the council unanimously approved Resolution No. 590 which will change a groundwater management area map to ease septic system regulations in the affected areas. Those areas are marked in pink and green stripes. The Maryland Department of the Environment must also approve the change for the resolution to become effective.


CAMBRIDGE — At its Sept. 6 meeting, the Dorchester County Council unanimously approved Resolution No. 590 which amends a groundwater management area map that is part of the 2004 county comprehensive water and sewer plan. The Dorchester County Department of Environmental Health now awaits approval from the Maryland Department of the Environment.

If approved by MDE, residents in the affected area will see an easing of septic system restrictions according to William Forlifer, director of the county Department of Environmental Health. The affected area is south of US Rt. 50 from Bucktown and Bestpitch Ferry roads to the west and the Transquaking River to the east.

“This has to do with septic systems and approval of septic systems in subdivision lots,” Mr. Forlifer said at the meeting. “This is a change that I’ve been eyeing for a while now. … If you can imagine the area between Bucktown Road and US Rt. 50, this will make that area handled the same way that the area on the north side of 50 is handled. The bottom line here is this will be a less restrictive mapping than is currently there.”

The mapping change relates to average groundwater levels that are measured in typically wet spring weather. The area that is likely to change will move from management area C to management areas B1 and B2. In management area C, new septics must have a minimum of a 1-foot treatment zone in unsaturated soil above the wet-season water table.

“The change would make it into a B area which is where there is no unsaturated treatment zone required, which is currently what is to the north of there and southwest,” Mr. Forlifer said Sept. 8. “Geologically, I can’t see any difference,” between the area north of US Rt. 50 and the area south of the highway affected by the change.

Blaine Williamson is broker-owner of McClain Williamson Realty based in East New Market. As a past president and an active member of the Mid-Shore Board of Realtors, Mr. Williamson tracks Mid-Shore land-use issues. He said roads often make for easy boundaries when creating maps though they are not always the most accurate placeholders.

“We have to be mindful of maintaining water quality here on the Mid-Shore, but septic system issues can often deter the building of new homes,” Mr. Williamson said Sept. 9. “I’m glad to see the council approve this change, and I hope MDE follows suit.”

According to Mr. Forlifer, the new map will affect some properties more than others.

“It is a significant change if your property is in this area and is one of those soils that is a silty soil, moderately well drained,” he said. “Typically, septics in those areas wouldn’t get approved in the C zone.”

Mr. Forlifer said he has submitted all the supporting documentation and information to MDE and is waiting to hear back from the department.

“I’ve been getting positive signals about that,” Mr. Forlifer said about communicating with MDE representatives, “so I thought it was time to make the change.”

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