Institute of Ecosystem Studies

2009 BES Annual Meeting Presentation and Poster Abstracts

Influence of Smart Growth Policy on Sewerage in the Baltimore-Metropolitan Area
Starry, Olyssa
Co-Authors: Barbara Beckingham* Melanie Harrison*, Bernadette Hanlon, Elizabeth Stanwyck#, and Olyssa Starry*

Abstract: Smart growth policy in Maryland, enacted in 1997, aims to discourage sprawl by limiting state funding for infrastructure to projects within county-specified “priority funding areas (PFAs)”. This project investigated whether a rise in septic system use is an inadvertent consequence of Smart Growth policy. The UMBC statistics department (CIRC) developed a finite mixture model to assess the effect of smart growth on sewerage choice, while simultaneously accounting for potential spatial autocorrelation. Parcel-level sewerage data was collected from the Maryland Property View database. Results were county specific. Some counties, like Carroll County, have maintained a similar relative proportion of sewer/septic over the past 10 years, whereas others, like Baltimore County, have seen an increase in the proportion of septic systems. Results further suggest that sewerage choice may be explained in part by a property’s location either within or outside of a PFA as well as its year built. Positive model estimates for “year built” as well as “PFA” indicate that newer homes as well as homes outside of the PFA are more likely to be on septic. This may be a concern, since septic systems are known to leach nutrients which impact the health of the Chesapeake Bay.