Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Local Sewage Plants to Get Upgrades

Today's Sun reports that Anne Arundel County will receive $111 million to retrofit its seven sewage treatment plants with funds accrued through the "flush fee." The upgrades will ensure that local plants have improved nutrient reduction capacity, and will ultimately prevent the County from dumping an estimated 7.5 million pounds of nitrogen into the Bay annually.

According to Public Works Director Ron Bowen, the upgrades should be completed by 2011. Two of the state's 66 treatment plants have already been upgraded under the new standards, and 12 more (including 7 in Anne Arundel) are being upgraded. Combined, these 14 plants discharge over 500,000 gallons of treated wastewater per day, comprising about 95 of the state's total sewage output.

While this news should be cause for cheer, a dose of healthy skepticism is in order. As has been reported by the Sun in the past, it appears that there are some who may try to abuse these funds to aid their pro-development agenda.

Any additional capacity provided by these plant upgrades needs first to be directed at existing residences or businesses with failing septic systems, and then secondarily offered to existing residents without de-nitrifying septic systems who would rather be on county sewer. These system upgrades, which are intended to reduce the polluting impacts of sewage treatment plants, can not be used as a trojan horse to pave the way for additional sprawl where it would otherwise lack adequate facilities.



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