Governor Issues Executive Order to Dramatically Reduce Nutrient Levels From Wastewater Treatment Plants

Governor’s Press Release

Maryland Department of the Environment
Richard McIntire
MDE
410-537-3003

John Surrick
DNR
410-260-8008

Governor's Press Office
Charles F. Porcari
Raquel Guillory
Governor’s Press Office
410-974-2316


Governor's Press Office

Governor Issues Executive Order to Dramatically Reduce Nutrient Levels From Wastewater Treatment Plants Maryland to Take Advantage of New Technologies to Help Meet

ANNAPOLIS, MD (November 14, 2002) - Continuing his commitment to restoring the health of the Chesapeake Bay, Governor Parris N. Glendening today signed an executive order instructing the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) to develop and implement an Enhanced Nutrient Removal (ENR) policy for wastewater treatment plants. The ENR policy will achieve 40-percent of the nitrogen reduction necessary to meet the new 2010 goal announced at the Chesapeake Bay Executive Council meeting two weeks ago.
“This Executive Order will jump-start Maryland’s efforts as we continue to set the pace for the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay,” said Governor Glendening. “With Enhanced Nutrient Reduction, we will significantly reduce the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus coming out of our waste treatment plants. Today, Maryland takes a major step forward towards meeting our goals and insuring a legacy of environmental protection for our children of which we can all be proud.”

“This Executive Order will jump-start Maryland’s efforts as we continue to set the pace for the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay,” said Governor Glendening. “With Enhanced Nutrient Reduction, we will significantly reduce the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus coming out of our waste treatment plants. Today, Maryland takes a major step forward towards meeting our goals and insuring a legacy of environmental protection for our children of which we can all be proud.”

The Chesapeake 2000 Agreement was signed by the Governors of Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia, the Mayor of Washington D.C., and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator. The agreement is a blueprint for the protection and restoration of the Bay, with a goal by 2010, of improving water quality so that living resources can thrive.

Effective immediately, the key requirements of the Executive Order are as follows:


  • The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) shall develop and implement an enhanced nutrient removal (ENR) policy for wastewater treatment plants to further reduce nutrient loads toward a goal of reaching 3 mg/l for nitrogen and 0.3 mg/l for phosphorus wherever feasible and within time frames envisioned in the 2000 Chesapeake Bay Agreement.
  • By December 31, 2002, MDE shall prepare a draft strategy to implement the ENR policy for public review by local governments, wastewater utilities, the Tributary Teams, and other stakeholders.
  • By the end of 2003, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) shall prepare a draft report documenting the nitrogen and phosphorus loading reduction goals that must be achieved by all sources in Maryland in order to meet the restoration goals of the Chesapeake Bay 2000 agreement.
  • By the end of 2003, MDE shall publish the final ENR strategy documenting the costs and feasibility elements of the 2002 draft strategy as well as recommendations for State grant and loan funds to provide incentives for all facilities to develop treatment plant designs capable of achieving the enhanced wastewater treatment goals.
  • By the end of 2003, DNR shall publish Maryland’s comprehensive, State-wide Chesapeake Bay Tributary Nutrient Reduction Strategy that shall address all nutrient load reductions from all sources.

The ENR policy established by this Executive Order will utilize technological advances in Biological Nutrient Reduction (BNR) to enhance Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay region-leading nutrient reduction program by preventing an additional 7.5 million pounds of nitrogen and 220,000 pounds of phosphorus from entering the Bay from wastewater treatment plants each year.

Already, the major wastewater treatment plants in Maryland - which contribute more than 98-percent of the State’s total sewage flow to the Chesapeake Bay - have either installed or have signed agreements for the installation of BNR technology. To date, BNR technology already implemented at plants in Maryland has removed 14 million pounds of nitrogen and 1.4 million pounds of phosphorus. The Patuxent River, which was the first river in the Chesapeake Bay watershed to have fully implemented BNR technology, has seen significant improvements in water quality. Bay grasses, which once carpeted the shoreline, are beginning to return in the Bay’s upper reaches.

“In the Patuxent watershed, we have demonstrated that reducing nutrient discharges from wastewater treatment plants can significantly improve water quality,” said Bernie Fowler, former State Senator and longtime champion of improving water quality in the Patuxent River. “While it is clear that more still needs to be done, we have shown that it is within our power to restore the health of the Patuxent River and the Chesapeake Bay. These wastewater treatment plant reductions are a giant step in the right direction and will play an important role in achieving our goals.”

Funding the upgrades required to meet the new standards will require a combination of State grants and loans, and local and federal funding. The cost for the average household is expected to be between $5 and $14 per year on their wastewater bill.


Throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed and in Maryland, wastewater treatment plants are the second largest source of nutrient pollution, following agriculture. Achieving the remaining portion of the nutrient reduction goals will require reductions including reducing run off from farms and urban areas, improved septic systems, and reducing air pollution from automobiles.



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