Press Release

SALISBURY, MD (August 17, 2005) – Governor Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr., and Maryland’s Secretary of the Environment Kendl P. Philbrick, marked another milestone in the cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay today by breaking ground on upgrades to Salisbury’s Wastewater Treatment Plant. The groundbreaking was made possible by Governor Ehrlich’s Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund, a cornerstone of the Governor’s environmental agenda.

Governor Ehrlich, key Cabinet Secretaries, city, county and state elected officials joined in a ceremony for the new wastewater treatment facility, the sixth municipal plant upgrade to be initiated since adoption of the landmark Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund.

“Maryland continues to be the leader in restoring the health of the Chesapeake Bay,” said Governor Ehrlich. “Across Maryland, we are gearing up to eliminate millions of pounds of pollution annually from the Bay. This administration is committed to preserving our great national treasure. Projects like this one in Salisbury will have a lasting impact on this state and the legacy we leave to future generations.”

The fund is the most innovative environmental legislation in the past two decades, to remove nitrogen and phosphorus from wastewater treatment plant effluent to state-of-the-art levels. When all 66 major plants are upgraded with use of the fund, impact will be a 7.5 million pound annual reduction in nitrogen and a 260,000-pound annual reduction in phosphorus.

“I commend Salisbury for their initiative to begin the process of upgrading their facility,” said Environment Secretary Philbrick. “Ten other facilities are under design to be upgraded and 29 facilities have initiated the planning to be upgraded to ENR. By 2007, construction will be underway at nearly half the major plants in the state, and one after the other, they will facilitate drastically lower nutrient levels.”

The $81.6 million plant will include enhanced nutrient reduction (ENR) technology that dramatically reduces the level of nitrogen and phosphorus being discharged directly to the Wicomico River that flows to the Chesapeake Bay.

The upgrade project involves the planning, design, construction and installation of full-scale Enhanced Nutrient Removal equipment to achieve total nitrogen removal to a yearly average of 3 to 4 milligrams per liter, an 82 percent reduction, and phosphorus to 0.3 milligrams per liter, a 70 percent reduction over current levels. Excess nutrients, like nitrogen and phosphorus, lead to degraded water quality, which negatively impact the ecology of the Bay and its tributaries.

This project also consists of expanding the existing 6.8 million gallons per day (MGD) plant to 8.5 MGD and upgrading the North Side and South Side Pumping Stations, which is necessary for the plant expansion.

“We are excited to be moving ahead with this extremely important upgrade and expansion to the City's wastewater treatment plant and are gratified by all the support, which, not only makes this momentous project possible, but also makes it feasible at a cost that does not place undue hardship on our rate payers,” said Salisbury Mayor Barrie Tilghman.

In addition to the nearly $3 million Bay Restoration Fund grant, a loan of $48.9 million to the city from the state revolving fund, administered by the Maryland Department of the Environment, with other state and federal grants will finance the project.

The new facility is expected to be fully operational by September 2008.