Septic Systems in the Agricultural Reserve

On February 14, 2006, the Montgomery County Council voted to protect the County's 90,000-acre Agricultural Reserve by limiting the size of multi-use on-site sewage systems in areas zoned as Rural Density Transfer. This followed Council action last December to prohibit water and sewer for private institutional facilities in the Reserve.

The amendment to the County's ten-year water and sewage plan was sponsored by Councilmember Michael Knapp and was approved unanimously. The measure passed by the Council places a limit on septic systems of 600 gallons per residential unit allowed under current zoning, equivalent to supporting a four-bedroom home. An amendment proposed by Councilmember Tom Perez -- and also approved unanimously -- capped the maximum size for non-exempted systems at 5,000 gallons per property. Before today, there was no legal limit on the size of such systems.

"We've just celebrated the 25th anniversary of our crown jewel Agricultural Reserve," said Knapp. "By limiting the size of septic systems in these zones, we will insure that the Reserve will continue to be around for its 50th birthday – and beyond. It's entirely appropriate that we limit piecemeal development and preserve the ability of farmers to keep on farming."

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