21 Wastewater Plants Violating Contamination Limits Across Bay

There's dire news about wastewater plants releasing pollution along the Chesapeake Bay. 

According to a recent report by the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP), 21 wastewater plants in the watershed violated their permit limits, releasing excessive amounts of nitrogen or phosphorous.

Baltimore DPW

Baltimore DPW

The worst violator was Baltimore’s Patapsco Wastewater Treatment Plant, the second largest plant in Maryland. EIP finds Patapsco discharged 3.7 million pounds of nitrogen pollution last year, four times its permit limit. By August of this year, the plant had already released more than twice its limit of nitrogen for the entire year.

Baltimore leaders blame the gross violation on the long delays of a $250 million upgrade at the plant that was supposed to be completed more than three years ago. Now, it's due to be finished in the summer of 2018, and when it is, officials say, the plant should no longer be in violation.

"A few plants, including Baltimore's Patapsco plant, have improvements that are behind schedule and deserve increased oversight from state regulators,” said Eric Schaeffer, director of the Environmental Integrity Project and former Director of Civil Enforcement at EPA.

In all, the report shows 12 Maryland sewage plants, along with six in West Virginia, two in Pennsylvania, and one in New York, all violated their permit limits in 2016.

The EIP report recommends that the Bay region states "should more consistently fine wastewater treatment plants and other polluters that violate their permit limits," and that the EPA should press those states (especially Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New York) to upgrade more of their wastewater treatment plants.

Megan Viviano