BALTIMORE, MD (December 22, 2004) -- Two workgroups tasked with reviewing Maryland’s water and wastewater programs have issued their recommendations to the state’s leadership. Their findings will result in actions that could impact county and municipal governments, citizens and the private sector.
The Water Security and Wastewater Systems Advisory Council and Interagency Technical Assistance Committee on Wastewater Treatment Systems delivered the report to sponsoring committees of the General Assembly and to Governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. earlier this month.
Since March, the Water Security and Wastewater Systems Advisory Council focused on matters relating to the security of water and wastewater facilities, chlorine and alternative disinfections and new technologies. The Interagency Technical Assistance Committee evaluated technical assistance to small and medium communities, user rates, public education, infrastructure needs and costs, and water and sewer planning.
“Going through this process was important and crucial work if Maryland jurisdictions and other service entities are to continue providing safe and adequate water services that support public health and the environment,” said Maryland Department of the Environment Secretary Kendl P. Philbrick. “On behalf of the citizens of the state I thank the committee members for their generous time and expertise.”
The report covers a broad range of issues from drinking water and wastewater security, chlorine use, water and sewerage planning, finance options for water and wastewater infrastructure by local governments and public awareness and technical assistance.
“We hope that this report will provide the basis for new programs and procedures at the state and local level to improve the overall management of water and wastewater systems,” said Victoria Woodward, chair of the Water Security and Wastewater Systems Advisory Council.
“The report emphasizes the need to help small and medium-sized facilities address on-going operational and maintenance, and periodic capital improvement needs,” added Steve McHenry, chair of the Interagency Technical Assistance Committee.
Report recommendations address many technical aspects related to the use of gaseous chlorine, liquid chlorine (sodium hypochlorite, more commonly known as bleach), and alternative disinfection technologies. The report also calls for greater vigilance to ensure the adequacy of water and wastewater facilities to serve existing and new development.
The report also updated 2001 estimates of wastewater capital from $4.3 billion to about $5.3 billion today. Much of the increased cost is attributable to Enhanced Nutrient Removal at wastewater treatment plants. The report also mentions the creation of the Bay Restoration Fund as a mechanism to fund this nutrient removal program.
Other recommendations of the report include:
Seeking changes in the federal Clean Water Act to allow loan forgiveness and longer repayment terms to make state water quality loan programs more affordable;
Encouraging local governments to perform utility rate studies to keep water and wastewater systems self-supporting;
Encouraging development of regional facilities where feasible and practical;
Improving citizen awareness of the need for adequate funding of water quality infrastructure through educational messages targeted to ratepayers.
Interested parties can obtain a copy of the report by calling (410) 537-3512. The report is also be available on MDE’s website at: mde.maryland.gov.
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