Pump for the Bay  

photo: upsplash

By Kathy Knotts  

Pumping out your septic tank is a task no one likes. But to make it a little bit more enjoyable, the Calvert County Environmental Commission is kicking off a new campaign to reward one lucky pumper the chance at $500.  

While a healthier Chesapeake Bay is the grand prize we all receive for responsible upkeep and maintenance of our septic tanks, one lucky county resident will get up to $500 in reimbursement for a pump-out or upgrade completed in 2022.  

The “Pump for the Bay” contest is open to any Calvert County resident who hires a company to pump out their septic tank or upgrades to a nitrogen-removing tank between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2022. County residents can enter by submitting a copy of their receipt along with a completed entry form before 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2023. Full details and entry form are available online at www.CalvertCountyMd.gov/PumpfortheBay.  

The contest is sponsored by the Calvert County Board of County Commissioners and the Department of Planning & Zoning. The Environmental Commission will select one top prize winner in a drawing to be held at its Jan. 30, 2023, meeting. Additional prizes include gift certificates from local businesses and free passes to county recreational facilities. Winners will be notified by mail.  

Proper upkeep of septic systems is critical to protect your home and the environment. With regular maintenance, a septic system is effective at safely getting rid of wastewater. However, a faulty septic system can result in problems with a home’s plumbing and can contaminate soil, groundwater, and nearby surface waters. Even when operating properly, conventional septic systems remove only about 10% of nitrogen from the effluent that flows from the septic tank into the drain field. Excess nitrogen can enter the groundwater and eventually enter the Chesapeake Bay, increasing algae growth. Excessive algae causes a decline in water quality, reduces marine plant and animal life, and creates low-oxygen “dead zones.”  

Homeowners can help reduce nitrogen pollution in the county’s waterways by pumping their home’s septic tank every 2-3 years or upgrading to a more efficient system that converts 50-75% of the effluent nitrogen to a gas and vents it harmlessly into the atmosphere.