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