State Denies Bay Restoration Fee Exemption Request for Ocean Pines Sanitary Sewer Area

Snow Hill, Maryland (May 8, 2023) – The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) denied the request to exempt residents in the Ocean Pines Sanitary Service Area (SSA) from paying the Bay Restoration Fee (BRF) for calendar year 2023.

In January, Worcester County officials applied for the exemption. However, in May MDE officials concluded that the 2022 discharge monitoring reports show that the Ocean Pines Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) averaged 2.84 mg/L of total nitrogen, which met the requirement to be eligible for the exemption, but averaged 0.315 mg/l of total phosphorus, which exceeded the eligibility requirement by 0.015 mg/L.

The overage resulted from a brief spike in phosphorus levels at the WWTP, which occurred when manufacturers were unable to supply a chemical necessary for phosphorus removal due to national supply chain issues.

As a result, the first quarter water and wastewater bills for residents of the Ocean Pines SSA included a $15 BRF, and that fee will continue to be added to quarterly bills throughout the remainder of 2023. Worcester County officials will continue to monitor Ocean Pines WWTP operations and reapply for an exemption in 2024. Since the chemical supply interruption was restored last summer, the Ocean Pines WWTP has been operating normally, with nitrogen and phosphorus levels below the BRF threshold. Staff is investigating the feasibility of expanding the onsite storage capacity of the necessary chemical to reduce the possibility of another shortage effecting plant operations.  

For more information, please contact the Worcester County Public Works Water and Wastewater Division at (410) 641-5251.