ELKTON, MD (July 13, 2006) – The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) continues to work toward a cleaner Chesapeake Bay today by breaking ground to upgrade the Elkton Wastewater Treatment Plant. Local and state elected officials joined representatives from MDE and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources in a ceremony for the new wastewater treatment facility. Funding for the technological upgrades was made available by Governor Robert L. Ehrlich’s 2004 Chesapeake Bay Restoration Act. Nine plants across the state are currently in the process of being upgraded and two plants have been completed and put in operation since the adoption of the landmark Restoration Act.
“Maryland continues to be the leader in restoring the health of the Chesapeake Bay,” said Governor Ehrlich. “By upgrading plants across the State, we are eliminating millions of pounds of pollution annually. Projects like this one demonstrate my administration’s commitment to improving the health of the bay and making Maryland a cleaner, safer place to live.”
The Chesapeake Bay Restoration Act of 2004 is the most innovative environmental legislation enacted in the past two decades. The act established the Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund, which provides the means to upgrade wastewater treatment plants to state-of-the-art levels, in order to remove nitrogen and phosphorus from plant effluent. Excess nutrients lead to degraded water quality, which negatively impacts the ecology of the Bay and its tributaries. When Maryland’s 66 major plants are upgraded through the fund, there will be a 7.5 million pound annual reduction in nitrogen and a 260,000-pound annual reduction in phosphorus flowing into the Bay’s tributaries.
“By Fiscal Year 2007 construction will be underway at nearly half the major plants in the state and, one after the other, they will drastically lower nutrient levels,” said Secretary of the Environment Kendl P. Philbrick. “Additional nutrient removal in the City of Elkton is essential for Maryland to meet its commitments under the Chesapeake 2000 Agreement.”
The $41 million plant in Elkton 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 Big Elk River that flows to the Chesapeake Bay.
The upgrade project involves the replacement of the existing Town of Elkton Rotating Biological Contactors (RBCs) wastewater treatment plant with Biological Nutrient Removal (BNR) and Enhanced Nutrient Removal (ENR) facilities. In addition, the project will expand the plant capacity from 2.7 to 3.2 million gallons per day.
The upgrade will enable the community to meet the goals established for nutrient loads discharged to the Chesapeake Bay. The wastewater treatment facility will achieve the effluent concentration goal of 3 milligrams per liter for Total Nitrogen and less than 0.3 mg/l for Total Phosphorous. The project will result in an 80 percent reduction in nitrogen and a 70 percent decrease in phosphorus to the receiving Big Elk River and Chesapeake Bay, and provide capacity to serve new growth in the community. The plant that will process 3.2 million gallons of effluent per day already serves more than 16,400 people.
In addition to the nearly $8 million Bay Restoration Fund grant, the plant will be funded through an $8.9 million state grant for BNR and a $23.3 million loan to the town from the state revolving fund, both of which are administered by MDE. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency also contributed $626,000 in federal grants to finance the project.
“Elkton’s Wastewater Treatment Plant ENR upgrade is the culmination of many years of planning, engineering and project development. We are particularly grateful to the Department of the Environment for the essential role it has played in the development and funding of this project and for its continuing assistance to the Elkton community to assure the success of the most challenging and ambitious wastewater construction project ever undertaken by our government,” said Joseph L. Fisona, mayor, Town of Elkton. “The new plant will not only provide the highest quality of wastewater treatment to protect the Chesapeake Bay and associated environment, but will offer an opportunity for unprecedented growth and development for Elkton.”
Work on the new facility will begin immediately and the upgraded components are expected to be fully operational by September of 2008.