St. Charles Companies completes water, sewer project
Infrastructure project said to benefit plant, residents, environment
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.