Saturday, December 22, 2007

Flush Fee In Action II

When the Bay Restoration Fund (aka The Flush Fee) was passed in 2004 by the Legislature and signed into law by Governor Ehrlich, there was great hope for the impact it would have. Several years on, we are now seeing the results of its implementation.

Today's Capital discusses the progress that has been made as a result of the $30/year/home fee on wastewater. All of the Anne Arundel County wastewater treatment plants are slated to be upgraded to "ehanced nutrient removal", at least in part with the assistance of flush fee funds, by 2011. According to the Capital report, some $111,760,000 from the flush will be spent in Anne Arundel County on the collective treatment plant upgrades.

There is also flush fee grant money available through the Anne Arundel County Health Department for upgrading septic systems. Sadly, only about 50 homeowners in the County have taken advantage of the program so far.

Regardless, the program seems to be working well. According to MDE estimates, the current upgrades have led to an annual reduction of nearly 700,000 pounds of nitrogen and nearly 80,000 pounds of phosphorus, and it's estimated that nitrogen will be reduced by 7.5 million pounds per year once all the plants are upgraded.

The success of this model reinforces the notion that in order for infrastructure upgrades to get the funding and attention they deserve, they need a dedicated funding source with an ongoing revenue stream. Counting on politicians to fund maintenance, whether it be for wastewater or stormwater, through the general fund, is pollyannaism at its highest.

* Added Bonus: 6 Common 'Flush Fee' Myths - From CBF

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