St. Charles Com­pa­nies com­pletes wa­ter, sewer project

In­fra­struc­ture project said to ben­e­fit plant, res­i­dents, en­vi­ron­ment

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By MICHAEL SYKES II msykes@somd­news.com

With the wa­ter cri­sis in Flint, Mich., be­ing a fix­ture in na­tional news head­lines, a new aware­ness about wa­ter clean­li­ness and sys­tem in­fra­struc­ture has risen through­out the coun­try over the last year.

With St. Charles Com­pa­nies’ new pub­lic wa­ter and sewer in­fra­struc­ture project, Charles County is tak­ing an­other step to en­sure the res­i­dents of the county have wa­ter that is safe and not con­tam­i­nated.

The project will sup­port

the yet-to-be-com­pleted 725 megawatt natural gas fu­eled power plant in St. Charles Piney Reach In­dus­trial Park while up­grad­ing wa­ter and sewage ser­vices to ex­ist­ing and fu­ture homes in St. Charles neigh­bor­hoods. The project was funded pri­vately by the com­pany.

Mathew Martin, pres­i­dent of St. Charles Com­pa­nies, said this project is a “per­fect ex­am­ple” of how mas­ter-planned devel­op­ments can prove to be ben­e­fi­cial to com­mu­ni­ties they are lo­cated in.

“[Plant owner Com­pet­i­tive Power Ven­tures] will sub­stan­tially ex­pand the county’s prop­erty tax base,” Martin said. “The plant will use gray wa­ter from the Mat­ta­woman Sewage Treat­ment plant as coolant. This re­duces the amount of ef­flu­ent be­ing dis­charged into the Po­tomac River.”

On top of that, he said, new jobs will be cre­ated for mem­bers of the com­mu­nity and a new, se­cure source of elec­tric­ity will be avail­able to peo­ple as well.

The project fa­cil­i­tates the op­er­a­tion of the power plant and will pro­vide sewage ser­vice and clean wa­ter to sur­round­ing neigh­bor­hoods.

County Com­mis­sioner Ken Robin­son (D) said any time the county has a more ef­fi­cient and ef­fec­tive means of pro­vid­ing clean wa­ter to cit­i­zens and en­sur­ing their safety, it is a pos­i­tive.

“Es­pe­cially with wa­ter [pol­lu­tion] be­ing in the news, any­time we can mod­ern­ize our in­fra­struc­ture when it comes to wa­ter, that is a big deal in a very pos­i­tive way,” Robin­son said.

The project took a while to de­velop, Robin­son said, but over­all St. Charles Com­pa­nies did a great job min­i­miz­ing in­con­ve­niences to cre­ate a new wa­ter and sewage sys­tem for county res­i­dents.

Along with the new sys­tem, the project in­cluded the con­struc­tion of a new pump house at the Mat­ta­woman Wa­ter Treat­ment Fa­cil­ity and a 14-mile water­line that will carry “gray wa­ter” from the pump house to the new power gen­er­at­ing site.

Gray wa­ter is con­tam­i­nated wa­ter pre­vi­ously used from sinks, show­ers, clothes wash­ers and other com­mon ma­te­ri­als. The plant will use gray-wa­ter for its cool­ing sys­tem, which will pre­vent mil­lions of gal­lons of gray-wa­ter from dis­charg­ing into the Po­tomac River, Martin said.

Jim Long, pres­i­dent of the Mat­ta­woman Wa­ter­shed So­ci­ety, said pro­tect­ing the Po­tomac River is al­ways a pos­i­tive thing. There are pos­i­tives and neg­a­tives that can come from hav­ing a plant, he said, but pre­vent­ing gray wa­ter from en­ter­ing into the river is im­por­tant.

But St. Charles Com­pa­nies and the county have to be­ware of po­ten­tial threats, Long said.

“If you look at the Mat­ta­woman plant, over 1,000 gal­lons of that fluid is go­ing to be va­por­ized and dis­charged into the air,” Long said. “I’m not con­vinced that the safety is­sues sur­round­ing that dis­charge into the air peo­ple breathe has been looked at care­fully enough.”

The same is­sues could per­sist with the plant in St. Charles, Long said, if they have not al­ready thor­oughly re­viewed the is­sue.

Over­all, Martin said, many com­mu­ni­ties around the coun­try are “grap­pling with the chal­lenge” of up­grad­ing their wa­ter and sewer in­fra­struc­ture in a cost ef­fec­tive man­ner. But Charles County does not have to worry about that, he said, for com­mu­ni­ties both in­side and out­side St. Charles.

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