Md. Approves $74 Million in Bay Pollution Projects

 This Blue Water Baltimore photo shows raw sewage mixed with storm water, overflowing from a damaged sewer manhole next to the Herring Run stream.

This Blue Water Baltimore photo shows raw sewage mixed with storm water, overflowing from a damaged sewer manhole next to the Herring Run stream.

The Maryland Board of Public works has approved $74 million worth of wastewater and sewage treatment projects across the state’s Chesapeake Bay watershed.

The bulk of the grants and loans will go towards multiple sewer infrastructure projects in Baltimore City ($57 million). The money will also fund nutrient removal at two wastewater treatment plants in Caroline County, a brand new wastewater treatment system in Garrett County, and a stream restoration project in Allegany County to reduce the effects of coal mining.

“These are smart investments to protect public health and the environment while saving money and energy in Maryland communities,” said Maryland Environment Secretary Ben Grumbles. “We said we would support Baltimore City’s work to stop sewage overflows to meet the requirements of our consent decree, and we are doing exactly that. We will continue to push aggressively for environmental progress.”

Below is the Maryland Department of the Environment’s full description of the project funds approved:

Baltimore City multiple sewer infrastructure projects -- Baltimore City

Funding of $57,042,524 to Baltimore City will help fund a continuation of the city’s efforts to prevent sanitary sewer overflows as required by a consent decree initiated by the Maryland Department of the Environment and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The projects include the planning, design and construction of improvements to the existing Baltimore City sanitary sewer infrastructure in the southwest area of the city, the Maidens Choice Pressure Sewer, the Uplands area, the Gwynns Falls sewage collection system and the Chinquapin Run portion of the Herring Run sewage collection system. The board approved four Bay Restoration Fund grants totaling $37,819,000 and five Water Quality State Revolving Loan Fund loans totaling $19,223,524 for the projects. Baltimore City and Baltimore County share the cost of some of the work because they share the sewer infrastructure. The Department of the Environment and its federal partners reached an agreement with Baltimore City – a modification of a 2002 consent decree – to greatly reduce the amount of sewage that overflows in the city by January 2021.

Preston Wastewater Treatment Plant Enhanced Nutrient Removal Upgrade project – Caroline County 

Funding of $11,019,847 – an $8,760,107 Bay Restoration Fund grant, a $1,129,870 Water Quality State Revolving Loan Fund and a $1,129,870 grant in the form of loan forgiveness from the Water Quality State Revolving Loan Fund – to the Town of Preston will help fund the planning, design and construction of Biological Nutrient Removal (BNR) and Enhanced Nutrient Removal (ENR) upgrades at the Preston Wastewater Treatment Plant. After the upgrade, the facility will reduce its nitrogen discharge by 83 percent and its phosphorus discharge by 90 percent, significantly reducing the amount of nutrients discharged to the Lower Choptank River and ultimately the Chesapeake Bay. Excessive amounts of nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus lead to lowered levels of oxygen needed to support aquatic life in waterways, including the Chesapeake Bay. Enhanced Nutrient Removal upgrades of wastewater treatment plants are a critical component of Maryland’s Phase II Watershed Implementation Plan. 

Ballenger-McKinney Photovoltaic project – Frederick County

A $2,431,269 Energy Water Infrastructure Program grant to Frederick County will help fund the development of a photovoltaic solar generation facility with a battery system to offset electricity usage by the Ballenger-McKinney Enhanced Nutrient Removal Wastewater Treatment Plant. 

Denton Wastewater Treatment Plant Enhanced Nutrient Removal Refinement project – Caroline County

Funding of $2,169,707 – a $768,700 Bay Restoration Fund grant and a $1,401,007 Water Quality State Revolving Loan Fund loan – to the Town of Denton will fund the planning and design for construction of improvements to the Denton Wastewater Treatment Plant, which is an Enhanced Nutrient Removal facility. The project will improve plant efficiency to allow it to reduce its nitrogen discharge by 62 percent, significantly reducing the amount of nutrients discharged to the Choptank River and ultimately the Chesapeake Bay. Excessive amounts of nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus lead to lowered levels of oxygen needed to support aquatic life in waterways, including the Chesapeake Bay. ENR upgrades of wastewater treatment plants are a critical component of Maryland’s Phase II Watershed Implementation Plan.

Town of Accident Infiltration and Inflow Rehabilitation project – Garrett County 

A $1.5 million Chesapeake Bay Water Quality Supplemental Assistance Grant to the Town of Accident will help fund the planning, design and construction of the Town of Accident Wastewater Treatment Plant. The current plant cannot properly accommodate high flows from the infiltration and inflow of stormwater. The project includes a new system to provide treatment at the high flows to improve the quality of effluent from the plant. 

Upper Georges Creek Shaft Stream Restoration Project  – Allegany County

Grant funding of $500,000 from the Mining Remediation Program to the Allegany County commissioners will help fund a project to reduce the environmental effects of legacy coal mining in Georges Creek by diverting from the creek water that leaks into underlying coal mine workings and becomes polluted with acidity and iron. 

-Meg Walburn Viviano

Bay Bulletin