City treatment plant off state’s scrutiny listing

At long last, the city and Maryland Department of the Environment have announced that the Amended Consent Order against Salisbury’s Wastewater Treatment Plant has been terminated, reflecting the successful start-up of the new plant.

While WWTP contributions to nutrient loads in the Chesapeake Bay watershed remain small — declining by 75 percent since 1985 — enhanced Nutrient Reduction facilities like Salisbury’s new plant are playing a significant role in improving Wicomico River and Chesapeake Bay.

The consent order, which was instituted in 2012, required that the city achieve compliance with its provisions by Dec. 31, 2017.

These provisions stipulated enhanced nutrient removal, including nutrient parameters for the discharge into the Wicomico River.

Construction on the new WWTP began in June 2015, and the plant has actually been meeting permit requirements since December 2017.

“This is a huge victory for the city of Salisbury and the health of the Wicomico River and the Chesapeake Bay,” said Mayor Jake Day.

“As a partner in the 2025 Chesapeake Bay Restoration targets, I am proud to say that we are not only in compliance with the permit, but our WWTP is achieving the highest standards of quality and operation,” Day said. “As we put this saga behind us, we can share in the added satisfaction of knowing that our plant is among the best in the region.”

Prior to the new treatment plant becoming operational, the Salisbury WWTP was achieving monthly averages of 25 mg/L of Nitrogen into the Wicomico River and 0.5 mg/L of Phosphorus.

The monthly average since December 2017 has dropped by more than 92 percent in Total Nitrogen, and 69 percent in Total Phosphorus.

Those numbers represent a decline of 386,600 pounds per year of Total Nitrogen and 5,800 pounds per year of Total Phosphorus entering the Chesapeake Bay through Salisbury’s WWTP.

The numbers show Salisbury’s WWTP is now one of the best-performing facilities in the watershed.

Even though the WWTP has been meeting the permit limits for a year and a half, the full construction of the WWTP upgrades weren’t completed until April of this year.

The total construction cost was $52 million. MDE provided Biological Nutrient Removal and ENR grants, along with low-interest loans.

The partnership with the state was key to implementing the dramatically reduced nutrient loads.

Those goals are part of the Chesapeake Bay 2000 Agreement, which requires reduction of the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus entering the Bay from treatment plants.

Salisbury’s plant, located off Pemberton Road at the head of the Wicomico RIver, is one of 66 major wastewater treatment plants that discharge into the Chesapeake Bay and are part of the ENR treatment program.

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