Bal­ti­more pays big to di­vert wa­ter through Spar­rows Point

The Dundalk Eagle - - EDITORIAL - By BRAD KRO­NER bkro­ner@ches­

Ev­ery month, the City of Bal­ti­more pays $ 120,150 to Spar­rows Point owner Trade­point At­lantic in or­der to di­vert 38 mil­lion gal­lons of treated wa­ter a day from the Back River Waste­water Treat­ment Plant through a pipe owned by the firm, ac­cord­ing to Kurt Kocher, pub­lic re­la­tions co­or­di­na­tor for the depart­ment of pub­lic works.

This amounts to a cost of over $ 1.4 mil­lion per year.

The treat­ment plant is owned and op­er­ated by the City of Bal­ti­more, but it is lo­cated in Bal­ti­more County and serves 1.3 mil­lion res­i­dents within 140 square miles of the plant.

The Depart­ment of Pub­lic Works is ex­am­in­ing cheaper al­ter­na­tives, but “any al­ter­na­tive would need to pass reg­u­la­tory muster,” said Jef­frey Ray­mond, a spokesper­son for the depart­ment.

“Any­thing we do re­gard­ing dis­charges must be ap­proved by our reg­u­la­tors and would re­quire a change to our NPDES per­mit,” he ex­plained.

The goal is to meet reg­u­la­tions set by the NPDES ( Na­tional Pol­lu­tant Dis­charge Elim­i­na­tion Sys­tem).

“Our State NPDES per­mit re­quires us to dis­charge some of the treated wa­ter to a lo­ca­tion other than Back River,” Ray­mond said.

Most of the treated wa­ter dis­charged from the Back River Waste­water Treat­ment Plant is sent to Back River.

The an­nual con­tract was last re­newed in De­cem­ber 2015, Kocher said.

The city has been pay­ing TPA for their ser­vices for about two years, since Septem­ber 2014, ac­cord­ing to Ray­mond.

“This is not a profit cen­ter for TPA,” said Aaron To­mar­cio, TPA’s vice pres­i­dent for cor­po­rate af­fairs.

“TPA re­ceives a con­tracted pay­ment amount to serve as a re­im­burse­ment of costs to run the pumps through the dis­charge point,” said To­mar­chio. “At the end of each year, there is a “true up” that oc­curs to make sure pay­ments cover ac­tual costs.”

Since the 1940’ s, the Back River Waste­water Treat­ment Plant has di­verted wa­ter through a pipe­line owned by Spar­rows Point, re­branded as Trade­point At­lantic in 2016.

Kocher said that the city used to profit off the wa­ter, which was bought by the steel mill in Spar­rows Point to be used as cool­ing wa­ter.

Now that the steel mill has left, the wa­ter is sim­ply dis­charged to Bear Creek.

“We’re hop­ing some­body wants to use [the wa­ter] in the re­de­vel­op­ment,” said Mike Gal­lagher, di­vi­sion chief at the treat­ment plant.

A fact sheet pro­vided by To­mar­chio says, “As Spar­rows Point looks to re­de­velop into a global in­dus­trial lo­gis­tics park, the readi­ness of high qual­ity treated in­dus­trial wa­ter for po­ten­tial use in man­u­fac­tur­ing op­er­a­tions is a huge as­set that we hope to use to at­tract businesses and jobs back to Spar­rows Point.”


Most of the wa­ter treated by the treat­ment plant is dis­charged into Back River, seen in the dis­tance.

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