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Glen Hills Area Sanitary Study

The 2002 Potomac Subregion Master Plan recommended a study of septic systems and soil conditions in the Glen Hills area located southwest of Rockville.  The County Council used the results of the study to evaluate and develop long-term sustainable wastewater disposal policies for these neighborhoods.

Study Background

The majority of existing homes in the study area use wells and septic systems for their water supply and wastewater disposal. These houses were built mostly in the 1950s to 1970s, before the advent of current well and septic system testing and permitting requirements. Historically, some of these systems have failed due to age, original system design or site limitations. In some cases, the septic systems were replaced with modern designs or sewer service was extended to address these failures.  

Pending the Council’s consideration of the completed study, the only justification for new sewer service in the study area was limited to the relief of documented septic system failures, as recommended in the 2002 master plan.

The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) initiated work on the scope of work and contractor selection for the study in 2011. DEP conducted the study and presented results to the public in two phases. 

  • Phase 1 addressed existing conditions in the neighborhoods related to septic system suitability, identifying general areas where soil conditions and regulatory constraints might constrain long term septic system use. 

  • Phase 2 addressed possible options for both the continued use of onsite septic system service and, if necessary, the provision of public sewer service. 

The Phase 1 Report (PDF, 17.14 MB) and the Phase 2 Report (PDF, 6.3.MB) were completed and posted in October 2013.  DEP conducted this study with input and guidance from the community, a consulting engineer and other County agencies. 

Study Area Map

Map of the Glen Hills Study Area Download Map as a PDF (570KB)

Sewer Service Policies

With the completion of the two study phases, the County Executive provided the Phase 1 and 2 reports to the County Council along with recommendations for service policies in March 2015. (Click here for the  Executive’s transmittal memo.

The Council subsequently requested that the Executive also provide a Water and Sewer Plan text amendment for sewer service policies based on the policy recommendations transmitted previously.   The Executive’s Recommended Sewer Service Policies and Water and Sewer Plan Text Amendment was transmitted to the Council on June 2, 2015.

Following a public hearing and work sessions, the County Council acted on March 8, 2016, to approve resolution no. 18-423 for the Glen Hills study area.  The resolution established revised sewer service policies for the study area, as follows:

  • That the use of on-site septic systems continues to be the primary wastewater disposal method within the study area, consistent with master plan recommendations and Water and Sewer Plan service policies. 

  • That the provision of public sewer service continues to be used to relieve cases involving documented septic system failures, as needed. 

  • That the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Department of Permitting Services (DPS) coordinate to evaluate and recommend—only as needed—the establishment of special sewer service areas within Glen Hills.  These are areas where future septic system repair or replacement limitations may require the eventual use of public sewer service.  The inclusion of such an area in the County’s Water and Sewer Plan will require the approval of the County Council. 

  • ​That the use of the Water and Sewer Plan’s  "abutting mains" service policy be restored within the study area.  This policy allows for only a single sewer connection for an existing property abutting an existing or approved sewer main.  The policy is designed so as not to promote the subdivision or resubdivision of existing properties using public sewer service. 

  • That the provisions of the  Piney Branch restricted sewer service access policy remain unchanged for those parts of the study area located within the Piney Branch subwatershed of Watts Branch. 

The resolution also directed the Planning Board to conduct a strictly limited amendment to the 2002 master plan for the study area to address some residents’ concerns regarding septic system limitations.  In subsequent budget discussions, the Council chose not to fund the limited master plan amendment for FY 2018.  The Council instead requested Executive staff to investigate whether the issue could be addressed by another amendment to the Water and Sewer Plan.  DEP staff have begun the work.

Glen Hills Study Document Links:

Study and Sewer Policy Chronology by Year

June 20, 2016

Maryland Dept. of the Environment provides concurrence with resolution no. 18-423.


March 8, 2016

Full Council work session and decision on the T&E Committee recommendations for the sewer policy text amendment.  Council resolution no. 18-423.


March 1, 2016

Full Council work session on the T&E Committee recommendations for the sewer policy text amendment.


January 21, 2016

Third Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy, and Environment (T&E) Committee work session on the proposed sewer policy text amendment.

October 26, and November 16, 2015

First and second Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy, and Environment (T&E) Committee work sessions on the proposed sewer policy text amendment.


September 24, 2015

Planning Board hearing and recommendations on the proposed sewer policy text amendment.


September 17, 2015

County Council public hearing on the Executive’s recommended sewer policy text amendment.


June 2, 2015

County Executive transmitted to the County Council a recommended Water and Sewer Plan text amendment for sewer service policies in the Glen Hills area.


March 30, 2015

County Executive transmitted to the County Council the Glen Hills Areas Sanitary Study Phase 1 and Phase 2 reports and related sewer service policy recommendations.

October 4, 2013

DEP posted the final versions of the Phase 1 Report (PDF, 17.14MB) and Phase 2 Report (PDF, 6.3MB) to the Glen Hills Study webpage.


April 17, 2013

Third Public Meeting: DEP presented and received feedback on the Phase 2 draft report developed by DEP and its contractor and on the next steps involved with bringing the study findings to the County Council.


March 18, 2013

Glen Hills Study Citizens’ Advisory Committee (CAC) meeting included continued discussion of the draft Phase 2 report, and review of changes made to the Phase 1 report in response to community comments.

December 17, 2012

The Glen Hills Study Citizens’ Advisory Committee (CAC) included further discussion of Phase 2 of the study and of the upcoming third public meeting.

November 19, 2012

The Glen Hills Study Citizens’ Advisory Committee (CAC) meeting included a continuing discussion on Phase 2 of the project, looking at both on-site septic and public sewer options for the designated Areas of Interest from Phase 1. 

October 15, 2012

Citizens’ Advisory Committee (CAC) meeting included discussion of the Phase 1 report and concepts for sewer service policies.


September 10, 2012

Glen Hills Citizens’ Advisory Committee (CAC) meeting: included a discussion on the startup of Phase 2 of the study.


September 4, 2012

Phase 1 Final Report completed.

July 9, 2012

The Glen Hills Study Citizens’ Advisory Committee (CAC) meeting included discussions on plans for the Phase 1 Final Report and plans for work on Phase 2 of the project. 

June 12, 2012

Second Public Meeting: DEP presented and receiveed feedback on the Phase 1 draft report developed by DEP and its contractor.

May 7, 2012

The Glen Hills Study Citizens’ Advisory Committee (CAC) meeting included a presentation from the study contractor on the progress of data collection from a variety of sources and pending data analysis. 

February 21, 2012

First Glen Hills Study public meeting: topics included overall scope of the study, background on wells and septic systems, planned public outreach efforts, and review of the elements of the Phase 1 part of the study.

Tab 4

Septic System Maintenance Guidelines

In response to requests made for information on septic system maintenance at the public meeting on February 21, 2012, we have added a link to the Septic Records and Maintenance Guidelines document available in print format from the Department of Permitting Services, Well and Septic Section. For additional information, visit DEP's  Well and Septic System page. DEP has also posted a Septic/Sewer Q&A Information-document to address some of the more commonly-asked questions posed by the public during the study process.

More Information

If you have questions for DEP staff about the Glen Hills Area Sanitary Study, please contact DEP at either 311 (240-777-0311 outside the County) or waterworks@montgomerycountymd.gov. The Project Manager for this project at DEP is Alan Soukup.

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