Bainbridge exec voices support of new sewer plan
— As the Bainbridge Development Corporation (BDC) continues to court an unnamed industrial company, county officials have made it clear that, at least for now, they won’t be responsible for laying pipe to connect the former naval training center property to county sewer.
County Department of Public Works Director Scott Flanigan informed the county council this week that his office plans to address the immediate need of replacing Port Deposit’s aging sewer treatment plant by 2020 with a recent round of design-build proposals — and leave the door open for a business to connect to county sewer in the future.
Two years ago, county officials proposed a regional sewer treatment plant that would also cater to the Bainbridge property, which has been looking for development for years. That plan considered rehabilitating Bainbridge’s sewage system, outright connecting it to the forthcoming new sewer plant or laying a pipe at the top of the hill near the property.
Earlier this year, the county council signed off on the Fiscal Year 2019 Capital Improvement Plan that detailed $10.7 million for a regional sewer treatment plant, but since then, the county opted to move forward with a smaller operation.
“We’re at the point where we’ve been kicking the proverbial can down the road for several years now, trying to decide what’s the right plan and the level of investment,” Flanigan said. “It’s very much a moving target, which makes this so hard. But we can’t
wait much longer, and we have to move forward with the information we have.”
BDC Executive Director Steve Cassard told the Whig later that regardless of whatever plans the BDC board has the needs of Port Deposit residents should come first, and the county could work its infrastructure back to Bainbridge.
“I understand that with Port Deposit, time is of the essence since they’re at a point of a potential failure with their sewer plant,” Cassard said. “After that, we would be pleased to be accommodated in additional capacity that’s phased in the future.”
Meanwhile, Port Deposit has been waiting for a new sewer plant to replace the one that has sat in Marina Park for the past 40 years. The primary issue with the plant is the seal tank, or the heart of the plant, is deteriorating and cannot take significant flow increases, Flanigan said.
The solution that county officials came up with in 2016 was a regional plant with a total capacity of 250,000 gallons per day, perched at the top of the hill close to Bainbridge.
There was some talk about using the sewage infrastructure that “criss-crosses” Bainbridge and leads down Route 222. The county’s previous plans even included rehabilitating that system and installing pipe and a pump station to carry treated effluent back up to the property. But Flanigan said that pipe was “not in great shape.”
“It would take some effort,” he added. “Whether it’s better and less expensive to rehabilitate that network or whether it’s better to do something new, is a question up to the developer.”
But as the county officials waited for word on development at Bainbridge, the outdated Port Deposit sewer plant could not continue to wait.
The design-build proposals call for a packaged sewer treatment plant, or a series of linked modules that are constructed in a factory and later transported to site for connection and installation. That way, Flanigan said, the Port Deposit sewer plant would have the ability to expand in phases, whether the development at the formal naval center warrants it.
The design-build proposals call for a sewer treatment plant closer to the existing plant, and is meant to serve no less than 60,000 gallons per day. Future upgrades could boost capacity up to 150,000 gallons per day if needed.
Cassard said that, to his knowledge, the unnamed industrial company that is engaged in negotiations to come to Bainbridge would be easily accommodated by the planned Port Deposit sewer plant, instead of a larger regional plant. He added that the BDC and its partners are still evaluating Bainbridge’s existing sewer system and whether that can be used.
“There’s still a chance,” he said. “The good news is the county executive is pretty aggressive about this project, and that’s extremely helpful to us since our prospect wants to look at a schedule.”
The many miles of abandoned roads at the former Bainbridge naval training center near Port Deposit are poised to once again see life with renewed redevelopment efforts underway.