Employing some of the last federal construction money available under the Clean Water Act, Baltimore County plans to install a $2.4 million sewer system to replace failing septic tanks at Cedar Beach on the Back River Peninsula.
County Director of Public Works Gene L. Neff said a 70 percent failure rate for individual septic tanks makes the area "the worst in the lower Back River Peninsula."
There are 190 homes in Cedar Beach, a community near the intersection of Holly Neck and Back River Neck roads and extending to the waterfront at Sue Creek and Middle River. Because there was no planned development in the area, Mr. Neff said, getting a sewer system wasn't a priority until the septic tanks became a health hazard.
Currently, with the water table almost at ground level, pollution from failing tanks runs across lawns and fields, into the river and Chesapeake Bay, Mr. Neff said.
Some $305,000 for the project will come from the county; the state will provide $792,000 and $1.3 million will come from the Clean Water Act's now-ended construction grants program, according to John Goheen, a spokesmen for the Maryland Department of the Environment.
From now on, Mr. Goheen said, counties and cities will have to borrow -- and repay -- money for such projects from the state.
"We rushed to take advantage of this," Mr. Neff said of the Clean Water grant money. "We got good cooperation from the state to get it all in on time."