MDE Issues More Stringent Permits to Control Nutrient Limits from Wastewater Plants

Press Release

Maryland Department of the Environment

Media Contacts

Julie Oberg
(410) 537-3003

Robert Ballinger
(410) 537-3012

MDE Issues More Stringent Permits to Control Nutrient Limits from Wastewater Plants

BALTIMORE, MD (August 15, 2006) – The City of Brunswick and the Town of Thurmont wastewater treatment plants this week became the first two facilities to receive stringent new permit limits issued by the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE). This is a result of a joint effort among Maryland, the U.S. EPA and other states in the Chesapeake Bay watershed to adopt an aggressive new permitting strategy for wastewater treatment plants by requiring specific nutrient loading limits in all new or renewed permits issued for Maryland’s 66 major wastewater treatment plants in the Bay watershed.

“This new permit approach is an example of MDE’s commitment to find the best solutions for restoring the Bay by working with local government and important involved stakeholders such as the Chesapeake Bay Foundation,” said MDE Secretary Kendl P. Philbrick.

The permit for the Town of Thurmont is a renewal permit for a one million gallons per day (mgd) treatment facility in Frederick County. The permit for the City of Brunswick’s WWTP, also located in Frederick County, is for 1.4 mgd. The permits for both facilities will be issued with an effective date of September 1, 2006.

“The permit requirements go beyond the approach outlined in EPA’s permit strategy for the Bay by implementing additional treatment optimization requirements and limits consistent with Governor Ehrlich’s Bay Restoration strategy,” said Dr. Robert M. Summers, director of MDE’s Water Management Administration.

The new permit limits set a cap on the total loading of nutrients that can be released from the facility consistent with the permitting approach announced by MDE and EPA last summer and with the loading goals established in the State’s Enhanced Nutrient Removal Strategy, which is a major component of Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay Tributary Strategies. However, the recently finalized permit limits go even farther than the previously announced strategy by requiring ENR facilities to achieve annual concentration levels no greater than 4 milligrams per liter (mg/l) Total Nitrogen and 0.3 mg/l Total Phosphorus even if the annual loading limit for protection of the Chesapeake Bay water quality standards might otherwise allow higher concentrations.

“CBF congratulates MDE on the first major wastewater permit renewal with annual loading caps for nitrogen and phosphorus pollution. These caps, or limits, are a critical requirement of Maryland's wastewater treatment plants if we are to see improvements in water quality in Maryland's rivers and the Chesapeake Bay,” said Kim Coble, Maryland Executive Director of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

This more stringent approach was recently developed as part of an agreement reached among MDE, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and the Maryland Association of Municipal Wastewater Agencies. While the initial permit was issued last fall, a permit modification was just completed to implement the additional requirements.

The purpose of the Bay Restoration Fund-supported upgrades of the state’s 66 major wastewater treatment plants and the new permitting strategy is to restore the Bay by achieving water quality standards that support the basic water quality conditions necessary to protect the health of aquatic life, ensure that fish and shellfish are safe to eat and provide safe recreational opportunities. Minor wastewater treatment plants (those that discharge less than 500,000 gallons per day), will be addressed in the latter stages of the Bay Restoration Fund implementation and will continue to have nutrient loading goals rather than limits in their permits.

All of the states in the Bay watershed and the federal government have been working aggressively to reduce all sources of nutrient and sediment loading to the Bay and its tributaries. Maryland has taken a huge step toward meeting this goal with the creation of Governor Ehrlich’s historic Bay Restoration Fund, which is providing the financial support necessary to upgrade all of Maryland’s major wastewater treatment plants to achieve state-of-the-art nutrient removal.

Additionally, the Bay Restoration Fund will be providing grants for upgrading onsite sewage disposal systems in the Critical Area surrounding Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries starting next year. A portion of that fund will also be used for planting winter cover crops on agricultural cropland to further reduce nutrient pollution to the Bay.

For more information about Chesapeake Bay Restoration efforts, visit www.mde.state.md.us/Water/bayrestoration.asp.

 

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