MAR Pushes Back on Expensive Proposal

January 27, 2023

- By The MAR Legal Team

Earlier this month, we shared details of new proposed Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) regulations impacting the south coast, Cape Cod and islands. MassDEP is proposing new and amended regulations to decrease nitrogen pollution in area estuaries that may require homeowners to install new nitrogen reducing septic systems that cost upwards of $30,000, in addition to requiring thousands more in one-time and annual costs. Read more about the proposal here. 

MAR has submitted comments expressing significant concerns about burdening homeowners with this cost. The comments emphasize two points: 

  1. Exorbitant Costs – MassDEP has acknowledged that installing the systems required under the proposal will cost $20,000-$30,000. However, that is only the beginning of homeowner expenses that will likely include thousands in landscaping and installation and thousands more in annual maintenance, inspection, and electricity costs. These costs will have a ripple effect, getting passed on to future buyers and renters, raising the cost of housing in areas where many are already severely cost burdened.
  2. Unfair Burdens – MassDEP acknowledges that the expensive mandate for homeowners may not even be sufficient to meet water quality goals. That makes sense given the many drivers of nitrogen pollution beyond Title 5 systems such as fertilizers and agriculture that the regulations do not touch. The regulations also do not distinguish between other modern systems, exempting only those systems installed one-year before the effective date of amendment, harming most those homeowners who have recently upgraded to environmentally friendly systems. Finally, the regulations require that all this must be done within five years even though the infrastructure, from engineers to supplies, simply cannot support widespread consumer demand for the requisite systems. These shortcomings will further increase costs and imperil homeowners who are making best efforts to comply. 


Read the full MAR comments here.