CHESTERTOWN, MD (February 9, 2006) – Governor Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr., and Maryland’s Secretary of the Environment Kendl P. Philbrick, continued the march toward a cleaner Chesapeake Bay today by breaking ground to upgrade the Chestertown’s Wastewater Treatment Plant. Governor Ehrlich’s Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund, a cornerstone of the Governor’s environmental agenda, made the groundbreaking possible.
Governor Ehrlich, key Cabinet Secretaries, local and state elected officials and others joined in a ceremony for the new wastewater treatment facility, the seventh 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 Chestertown 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.
“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,” said Environment Secretary Philbrick. “Additional nutrient removal in Chestertown is essential for Maryland to meet its commitments under the Chesapeake 2000 Agreement.”
The more than $9.18 million plant will include enhanced nutrient removal (ENR) and biological nutrient removal technology that dramatically reduces the level of nitrogen and phosphorus being discharged directly to the Chester 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 83 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. The plant that processes 900,000 gallons of effluent per day serves more than 4,200 people.
In addition to the nearly $1.5 million Bay Restoration Fund grant, a loan in excess of $3.6 million to the town from the state revolving fund and a $3 million grant for biological nutrient removal, both administered by the Maryland Department of the Environment, with other state and federal grants will finance the project.
“The Town of Chestertown is pleased to participate in this vital nutrient removal program and appreciates the state’s and EPA’s efforts to assist us with grants and loans,” said Chestertown Mayor Margo G. Bailey. “The Chester River is an extraordinary river with a rich colonial maritime history. It is incumbent upon us to insure that the Chester River is as clean as it can be for our own use and the use of future generations. Upgrading the Chestertown wastewater treatment plant will definitely improve the river’s quality.”
Work on the new facility will begin in March and the upgraded components are expected to be fully operational by next summer 2007.