In September, the Anne Arundel County Department of Public Works held an informational meeting regarding the opportunity to bring public sewer to our community – the “Septic-to-Sewer Connection Program”. Presentation materials and a recording of the meeting are available at the website below for your reference:
As a homeowner’s association, we feel it is our obligation to provide this information to the community, and we have formed a Public Works Committee to help accomplish this objective. Many of the septic systems in our community have failed and are of a great cost to the homeowner on an annual basis. Our Goal: To Help households understand the costs and feasibility to improve property values, health, and the bay.
The association is not advocating for or against this opportunity; instead, we want to enable residents to make an informed judgement and facilitate any project that members of the community decide to undertake.
The general process for proceeding with a potential project involves:
a) understanding community interest
b) applying to the county, which starts the planning process at no risk to the community, but provides better cost baselines
c) deliberately deciding to start the petition process
d) petitioning all properties in the project area
e) if consensus achieved, proceeding with execution.
At this point, we likely have more questions than answers, but are focused on steps a) and b) above. Below is a short summary of what we know and our proposed path forward.
What we know:
- Anne Arundel County has a serious pollution problem from 41,500 septic tanks. These tanks and their drain fields leach nitrogen to our streams, rivers, and Chesapeake Bay. Nitrogen is one of two major components, along with phosphorus, that cause algal blooms, dead zones, fish kills, and flesh-eating diseases that threaten human and dog lives.
- Septic tanks also can cause excess levels of nitrates and bacteria to accumulate in groundwater, our main source of drinking water. The soil horizons directly underlying a leaking septic tank or leach field are referred to as the “infiltration zone”. These nitrates can pose significant threats to human health. Some states report that more groundwater drinking water wells have been shut down due to high nitrate concentrations than from any other chemical constituent.
- Because of the above pollution to the Rivers and Bays, along with health issues, the county is specifically incentivizing sewer hookup through monetary grants, longer-than-normal amortization periods, and assessment deferrals.
- Any incentives for sewer would not apply to water connection projects. But the process of applying and petitioning for both utilities is the same.
What are the potential costs associated with this project if undertaken?
We know there are 3 main components to the total cost to any homeowner:
|1) County Project Cost
||2) County Hook Up Charge
||3) Private Onsite Installation
Total County Cost divided by Number of Homes in the Project Area (Subsidy would apply)
County costs include installing pumping station, piping, project management etc.
|Fixed Fee One Time Cost to Connect to Sewer
One Time Cost Negotiated and Scheduled by Homeowner
Costs are variable based on property-specific conditions, for example, distance from the street to connection and elevation.
|AA County provided rough estimate of $1,000-$2,000 per home per year.
||Initial county budgetary estimate $9300
||Historical data shows 80% of homes would incur $2,000-$10,000 cost
|Payments made monthly by each property over a 40-year assessment period
||Paid at the time of connection
||Paid by homeowner at the time of connection
***Definition of the “Project Area” is key. This can be anywhere from a single property to the whole neighborhood.
The Total Project Cost will be highly dependent upon the project area definition.
Key incentives are available:
Bay Restoration Fund
County Deferral of
Monthly Total Project
|Grants are designed to remove/reduce upfront costs for homeowners. Grants can be used for County Hook Up Charge or Private Onsite costs.
||Income-based subsidy applied to the Total Project Cost. Subsidies are prioritized on a community-by-community basis – we know additional clarity is needed here.
Total project monthly assessment costs can be deferred – we know additional clarity is needed here. There are terms attached.
|Up to $20,000 available per household
Annual income >$300K – 12.5%
Annual income < $300K – 25%
100% deferral (elderly/disabled)
What we are asking of you:
- Review the linked material and send us your questions, comments, and thoughts by 12/5/2021. We will endeavor to get answers to all of these questions (see path forward below).
- Tell us your opinion on the best way to ensure appropriate engagement/communication regarding this potential project (i.e., town hall, door-to-door, small group meetings, etc.)
Proposed path forward:
1. Gingerville Public Works Committee actively collect information and assemble FAQ. [Ongoing]
3. Gingerville Public Works Committee run questions to ground and update FAQ - 12/10/21
4. Gingerville Public Works Committee distribute community survey to understand community interest and support defining notional project areas - 12/17/2021
5. Define notional project area(s) and submit application to county coincident with general timing of Gingerville Annual Meeting - Application sent April 2022
6. Gingerville Homeowners Association hold open forum discussion during Annual Meeting [February 2022]
Below is the message that the Gingerville Public Works Committee received from the Septic-to-Sewer Connection Program:
Thank you for your interest in the Septic-to-Sewer Connection Program. Your community has been identified during this application cycle as a high-impact project that may receive a County subsidy should the project go forward.
Although your community is eligible for the County’s septic connection program, it is currently outside of the State’s designated Priority Funding Areas (PFA). Projects outside the PFA are not eligible for State funding, including sewer connection projects. (You may learn more about Priority Funding Areas here
). We are coordinating with the Anne Arundel County Office of Planning and Zoning to review options for either adding your community to the PFA or requesting a PFA Exception to ensure the availability of State funding to support the project.
Please note, the costs that were presented in the original informational meeting assumed State funding. (You may review materials from your community informational meeting at bit.ly/gingervillemanorcommunity
). State funding is announced on a yearly cycle and the earliest DPW can notify your community if State funding is available is summer 2024.
However, it is possible for a community to proceed without State funding and DPW will develop conceptual engineering and anticipated costs to homeowners without the State funding. Please note, these updated costs are expected to be higher than those presented during the informational meeting.
We will contact you with the results of this analysis and next steps. Your community application will remain valid for three years from the year of submission and DPW will retain your application unless you decide to withdraw it. Again, thank you for your interest, and please let us know if you have any other questions.
If we receive any more information from the County or the Committee, we will pass it along.
Frequently Asked Questions