Oct 28, 2019

Maryland Wastewater Treatment Plant Upgrade Combats Eutrophication

Upgrades to the Freedom District Wastewater Treatment Plant in Maryland have concluded in an effort to filter out nitrous and phosphorous from the Patapsco River. 

Upgrades to the Freedom District Wastewater Treatment Plant in Maryland have concluded in an effort to filter out nitrous and phosphorous from the Patapsco River. 

The Maryland Environmental Service (MES) has upgraded the Freedom District Wastewater Treatment Plant in Sykesville in an effort to more effectively filter out pollutants such as nitrous and phosphorous, according to Carroll County Times.

The treated wastewater is discharged into a tributary of the Patapsco River. These upgrades intend to improve the water quality of tributaries, which eventually reach the Chesapeake Bay.

“The main purpose of this project was to upgrade the wastewater treatment plant from a treatment process which only treats to a biological nutrient removal level to enhanced nutrient removal-level treatment,” said Craig Renner, managing director of communications for MES. “By upgrading, pollutants in the discharged water are reduced as much as 90%. Improving the quality of discharge will help improve the overall water quality of downstream tributaries that feed into the Chesapeake Bay.”

Upgrades to the nutrient removal system have been occurring since 2014 and were completed Aug. 2019, according to Carroll County Times. The upgrades cost $24.8 million.

Though nitrogen and phosphorus are essential to life in the bay, an excess of these nutrients can devastate plants and aquatic wildlife, as well as disrupt water flow, according to the U.S. EPA

“Excess nutrients in the water disrupt the energy flow in the bay and can cause ecosystem collapse through a process known as eutrophication,” said Renner. “Humans have grossly accelerated this natural process by over fertilizing algae in the Chesapeake, causing devastating effects on the ecosystem and wildlife.”

According to Renner, 66 to 67 major facilities will be upgraded with ENR treatments, allowing for nutrient reductions of 7.5 million lb of nitrogen per year and 0.26 million lb of phosphorus below the year 2000 levels.

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