Cambridge country club fined $500,000 for pollution violations

A Cambridge country club was ordered to pay an "extraordinary penalty" of $500,000 by a Dorchester County Circuit Court for discharging raw sewage into wetlands along the Choptank River that eventually flow into the Chesapeake Bay, according to a Thursday announcement from the state attorney general's office.

BSJ Partners LLC, owner-operator of Clearview at Horn's Point, formerly known as the Cambridge Country Club, was ordered to pay a $485,000 civil penalty for environmental violations, a $15,000 penalty for failing to submit discharge monitoring reports for three years; and a $500 penalty for discovery violations.

"The extraordinary penalty we secured in this case is a severe warning to anyone who would pollute our wetlands, our rivers and the Chesapeake Bay," said Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler in a statement. "This office will aggressively pursue and punish those who violate the law and harm the health and well-being of Maryland's precious natural resources."

Gansler's office said that for more than two years, the owners saved $424,000 by diverting raw sewage from a failed septic system through an underground conduit it constructed into the wetlands instead of pumping and hauling the waste or connecting to a nearby municipal sewer line.

High levels of fecal coliform were found in Jenkins Creek, which feeds the Choptank River, by the Maryland Department of the Environment, impacting shellfish harvesting.

An attorney for BSJ had no comment.