Back River waste­water dis­charge per­mit up for re­newal

Meet­ing set for Monday in Dun­dalk

The Avenue News - - Front Page - By VIRGINIA TER­HUNE vter­hune@ches­pub.com

The pend­ing re­newal of the Mary­land De­part­ment of the En­vi­ron­ment’s dis­charge per­mit for the Back River waste­water treat­ment plant will be the sub­ject of a pub­lic meet­ing on Monday in Dun­dalk.

“The pur­pose of the meet­ing is to pro­vide an op­por­tu­nity for the per­mit­tee to present what they are ap­ply­ing for in the re­newal ap­pli­ca­tion and for the pub­lic to ask ques­tions,” wrote Jay Ap­per­son, MDE’s deputy di­rec­tor of com­mu­ni­ca­tions, in an email.

“Ba­si­cally, it is an op­por­tu­nity for an in­for­ma­tion ex­change with the pub­lic,” wrote Ap­per­son. “The wa­ter qual­ity re­quire­ments of the re­ceiv­ing wa­ters and ex­ist­ing per­mit re­quire­ments will be pre­sented by MDE.”

The meet­ing will start at 6 p.m. at the North Point li­brary at the cor­ner of Ho­labird Av­enue and Merritt Boule­vard.

The Bal­ti­more City-run waste­water treat­ment plant lo­cated off East­ern Boule­vard near the Belt­way is part of the re­gional Metropoli­tan District’s sys­tem of wa­ter pump­ing sta­tions and sewer treat­ment plants that serve res­i­den­tial, com­mer­cial and in­dus­trial users in Bal­ti­more City and Bal­ti­more County.

The Back River plant dis- charges treated wa­ter into the up­per Back River sep­a­rat­ing Dun­dalk and Es­sex and also pipes treated wa­ter six miles south to Spar­rows Point, where former steel mill op­er­a­tors used the wa­ter to cool metal be­fore re­treat­ing it and dis­charg­ing it into Jones Creek.

Bal­ti­more City is cur­rently pay­ing Trade­point At­lantic, the new own­ers of Spar­rows Point, the sum of $120,000 a month (about $1.44 mil­lion a year) to con­tinue ac­cept­ing the di­verted wa­ter, some of which is cur­rently be­ing used to dampen the dust cre­ated by on­go­ing de­mo­li­tion of in­dus­trial build­ings on the site.

The Back River treat­ment plant is cur­rently in the mid- dle of a ma­jor ex­pan­sion to meet govern­ment man­dates to im­prove the bi­o­log­i­cal health of the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay by fur­ther re­duc­ing the level of nu­tri­ents in the plant’s dis­charge.

Nu­tri­ents such as ni­tro­gen and phos­pho­rous, as­so­ci­ated with air pol­lu­tion, fer­til­ized fields and other wa­ter runoff, can cre­ate al­gae blooms that shut off sun­light and de­prive fish and shell fish of oxy­gen.

The Back River plant ex­pan­sion in­cludes multi-mil­lion dol­lar projects to build an ad­di­tional fil­ter­ing process to re­duce nu­tri­ent lev­els, as well as con­struc­tion to boost the plant’s ca­pac­ity to han­dle above-av­er­age in­flows of rain wa­ter.

PHOTO BY DAN BALD­WIN

The Back River waste­water treat­ment plant in Dun­dalk is seek­ing a re­newal of its dis­charge per­mit from the Mary­land De­part­ment of the En­vi­ron­ment.

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