Sep 10, 2010

EPA Sets New Limits for Blue Plains Wastewater Discharges

Move will bring improvements to Chesapeake Bay, Potomac River

To help improve water quality in the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reissued an operating permit for the Blue Plains Advanced Wastewater Treatment Facility.

The permit reduces the amount of nitrogen the plant can discharge by 3.8 million lb each year--a 45% reduction.

“These reductions are critical to protecting the health of the Chesapeake Bay as well as the Potomac River,” said Shawn M. Garvin, EPA mid-Atlantic regional administrator. “By significantly reducing nitrogen pollution from the Blue Plains plant, we’re taking a major step on the road to restoring the Bay for future generations. DC Water through its early actions to enhance treatment levels at this facility is clearly a leader in the Bay restoration.”

The five-year renewal of a Clean Water Act permit calls for DC Water (the District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority) to reduce nitrogen discharges from 8.5 million to 4.7 million lb each year by upgrading its facility. The plant modifications are to be completed by July 14, 2014, so that the pollution reductions can be fully achieved in 2015.

This action is part of a coordinated effort across the Bay region by EPA and state permitting agencies to control discharges of nitrogen and phosphorus from more than 483 significant wastewater facilities. The Blue Plains facility is the single largest point source discharger of nitrogen in the Bay Watershed.

During the past 25 years, significantly more progress has been made in reducing the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus from wastewater facilities than from any other sector, according to EPA. Wastewater pollution has dropped 55%, while agriculture pollution has decreased 31% and urban and suburban non-point source pollution has increased 15%.