Press Release

CRESAPTOWN, MD (August 25, 2005) – Governor Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr., Maryland’s Secretary of the Environment Kendl P. Philbrick and western Maryland legislators marked another milestone in the cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay today by cutting the ribbon on the first facility to be completely upgraded to enhanced nutrient removal (ENR) under the Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund (BRF). The Governor’s efforts will reduce nitrogen and phosphorous pollution emitted at the plant by 81 percent and 90 percent, respectively.

Governor Ehrlich’s Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund, a cornerstone of the Governor’s environmental agenda, made upgrading the Celanese Wastewater Treatment Plant possible. “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 will have a lasting impact on this state and the legacy we leave to future generations.”

Governor Ehrlich, key Cabinet Secretaries, Allegany and Garrett county and state elected officials joined in the dedication for the new wastewater treatment facility, the first to be completed since adoption of the landmark BRF. 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.

“This plant stands as a symbol of the continued dedication toward making a cleaner Chesapeake Bay a reality,” said Maryland 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 $15.8 million plant includes ENR technology that dramatically reduces the level of nitrogen and phosphorus being discharged directly to the Potomac River that flows to the Chesapeake Bay. By modifying a project previously approved by the Maryland Board of Public Works, the facility was able to install full-scale Enhanced Nutrient Removal equipment to achieve total nitrogen removal to a yearly average of 3 to 4 milligrams per liter, an 81 percent reduction, and phosphorus to 0.3 milligrams per liter, a 90 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.

“Allegany County appreciates the strong commitment the State of Maryland has made to assist us with this important project,” said County Commissioner President James J. Stakem. “We are proud to be the first community to utilize Bay Restoration Funds to complete an Enhanced Nutrient Removal upgrade at our Celanese Wastewater Treatment Plant.”

The project also consisted of expanding the existing 1.25 million gallons per day (MGD) plant to 1.66 MGD. Aeration tanks were modified, methanol facilities were enlarged, additional piping and pumps along with chemical feed and denitrification filters were all part of the work.

The Celanese Wastewater Treatment Plant serves some 2,000 homes and businesses in Allegany County, including the Western Correctional Institution.

In addition to more than $2 million in Bay Restoration Funds being submitted to the Board of Public Works for approval, a loan of $8.9 million to Allegany County from the state revolving fund, administered by the Maryland Department of the Environment, with other state grants, of which $4.7 million has already been approved by the board, will finance the project.