Septic System Upgrade Assistance |

Charles County, Maryland

Septic System Upgrade Assistance

Septic System Upgrade Assistance

You may be eligible for a free septic system upgrade or connection to public sewer system – through a grant from the Bay Restoration Fund (BRF).

The Chesapeake Bay has experienced a decline in water quality due to over enrichment of nutrients.  Effluent from wastewater treatment plants and septic systems is one major contributor of nutrient pollution. There are approximately 17,067 septic systems in Charles County. Of these 1,178 systems are located within the “Critical Area” (within 1,000 feet of tidal waters). The typical septic system does not remove nitrogen, instead delivering about 18 pounds of nitrogen per year to the groundwater.  An upgraded, nitrogen-removing septic system cuts a system’s nitrogen load in half.  Connecting a septic system to the public sewer system reduces the nitrogen delivered to waterways by about 90%.

The Charles Department of Health has upgraded over 100 septic systems to nitrogen removing Best Available Technology (BAT) through the State’s Bay Restoration Fund (BRF) Septic System Grant Program.  This fund was put in place to finance septic system upgrades and connections to public sewer systems for residents of Maryland and to help reduce the nitrogen load to the Bay.  This strategy is part of the ongoing effort toward meeting the EPA’s Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) mandate. 

Charles County adopted its Phase II WIP strategy in 2013, which is an analysis of the County’s baseline and target loads for the various source sectors and potential scenarios to reduce loads; one being the septic system sector.  The WIP strategy recommends a combination of actions, with a combined load reduction to be able to meet the TMDL by 2025.  One of these actions is septic system upgrades to nitrogen removing BAT.  The County’s WIP goal is to upgrade a total of 695 systems which will result in a nitrogen load reduction of 6,243 lbs.  The action accounts for 12% of the total load reduction target of 51,759 lbs. of nitrogen.

The grant prioritizes funding for septic system upgrades and connections to public sewer systems toward those systems that pose the greatest threat to the watershed.  In accordance with State law, the BRF prioritizes upgrades as follows:

  1. Failing septics or holding tanks in the Critical Areas
  2. Failing septics or holding tanks not in the Critical Areas
  3. Non-failing septics in the Critical Areas
  4. Non-failing septics outside the Critical Areas
  5. Other septics in the Critical areas, including new construction
  6. Other septics outside the Critical areas, including new construction

The BRF Septic System Grant Program in Charles County is administered through the Health Department.  Contact the Charles Department of Health, Environmental Health Services, Latoya Reeder at or (301) 609-6792 to find out if your property is eligible for a free septic system upgrade through the BRF grant program. 

Click here to download an application and checklist.

For more information about the State implemented Bay Restoration Fund (BRF) and Septic System Grant Program, visit the Maryland Department of the Environment’s website.