May 14, 2020

Baltimore City & Tradepoint Atlantic Strike a Sewage Deal

Tradepoint Atlantic is now remaking an industrial steel mill's site into a new logistics hub

industrial water

For the past seven decades, the City of Baltimore, Maryland has been funneling millions of gallons of wastewater through five miles of pipes daily from the Back River Wastewater Treatment Plant to Sparrows Point, sending it to an industrial steel mill.

The chemically treated water would then flow through to two designated outfalls in the river, monitored by state and federal regulators. Since Bethlehem Steel shut down about a decade ago, the infrastructure at the mill site has continued to push treated wastewater out to Patapsco. 

Tradepoint Atlantic, the developer that completed its acquisition of the 3,100-acre property in 2018, is now remaking the site into a new logistics hub, reported the Baltimore Business Journal.

“When we took over the property, we inherited this industrial water system and we had no real need for it anymore,” said Aaron Tomarchio, a vice president for Tradepoint. “As we went through our redevelopment” — one that has added warehouses for the likes of Amazon, Floor & Decor and others — there were parts of the system in the way of development.”

Baltimore will be paying Tradepoint to let the city maintain and modernize the industrial architecture, while getting its pipes out of the way, reported the Baltimore Business Journal.

This allows Tradepoint to start developing land and actually putting it into active use, according to Matthew Garbark, acting director of the Department of Public Works. 

The developer and city will establish a permanent solution where the city will construct its own infrastructure on the edge of Sparrows Point to a new discharge point into the Patapsco River, according to the Baltimore Business Journal. Tradepoint is granting the city a license for a $14,000 monthly fee to use the infrastructure on its property through October of 2022.

The fee will increase drastically to $119,286 each month, if and when the license is extended, according to the Baltimore Business Journal. The city has also set $1.2 million for a contingency fund to help Tradepoint pay for certain expenses incurred from the sewage discharge agreement.

The Back River Wastewater Treatment Plant has also been depositing its chemically treated wastewater into the Back River and Patapsco River, reported the Baltimore Business Journal. Under limits imposed by the Maryland Department of the Environment, the plant can send a maximum of 130 million gallons daily into outfalls in the Back River and 130 million gallons per day to Sparrows Point, where the treated effluent enters the Patapsco.

Both Garbark and Tomarchio emphasized that this is treated water flowing out, not raw sewage.

The city also plans to add a new outfall leading further out in the Patapsco, which would reroute the water from outfalls closer to the shore on the eastern and western edges of Sparrows Point. This should also also prevent further erosion of the shoreline, given the contaminated sediment and groundwater left over from Bethlehem Steel. 

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