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Maryland Legislature Looks At 'Flush Tax' Increase

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Maryland's legislative session starts next Wednesday, and one of the items under consideration will be raising the state's "flush tax."  

A coalition of Maryland environmental groups is calling for a four-fold increase in the an annual fee, which charges $30 to any property owner who uses a sewer line or owns a septic system. The money would go toward sewage and septic system upgrades that are expected to cost the state billions of dollars. 

A state task force, chaired by the head of Maryland's Department of Natural Resources, is considering recommending a doubling of the fee in 2013, and increasing it to $90 for property owners in 2015. 

Gov. Martin O'Malley has said he is considering a fee increase. 

Environmental groups say the state shouldn't wait to quadruple the fees, and should instead do so now. Those groups include the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the Sierra Club, Environment Maryland and the Maryland League of Conservation Voters. 

The state is working with the Environmental Protection Agency to upgrade leaky sewage systems and control stormwater runoff. Those are two big sources of heavy metals, nitrogen, and bacteria that pollute rivers and the Chesapeake Bay.

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