Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley has announced plans to form a task force to study pollution from septic tanks and find a way to reduce their pollution.

About 411,000 homes in Maryland are on septic systems, which contribute about 6 percent of the overall nitrogen pollution to the Chesapeake Bay. However, septics can make a much bigger impact on certain river systems, such as the Severn, where close to one-third of the homes have been built on septic systems. And in several towns in Caroline County, on Maryland's Eastern Shore, the septic systems routinely fail and have polluted a nearby lake.

O'Malley backed a bill in the last legislative session to drastically reduce new development that relies on septic tanks, but the home builders, local government officials and the septic tank industry pushed back and the chair of the House Environmental Matters Committee, Del. Maggie McIntosh, recommended further study on the issue before taking action.

O'Malley's task force will include the secretaries of the departments of planning, agriculture, natural resources and the environment as well as the head of the Critical Areas Commission. Business leaders, environmental advocates and members of the House and Senate will also participate.