Chesapeake Bay regs affect sewer systems
The federal Chesapeake Bay Initiative establishes limits on the amount of chemicals and nutrients that sewer plants may discharge into rivers and streams within the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
There are four main sewer plants in the local area, located in Berkeley Springs, Hancock, Great Cacapon and Paw Paw.
All but the plant in Great Cacapon will have to conform to the TDML, (Total Daily Maximum Load) limits set by the U.S. Department of Environmental Protection.
The Great Cacapon plant does not fall under the federal mandate because it discharges less than 400,000 gallons of effluent a day.
The good news is the new sewer processing plant in Berkeley Springs already meets TDML daily limits on the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus that may be discharged.
Warm Springs Public Service District Manager Rodney Hovermale said the Berkeley Springs processing plant met the requirements in 2011.
The new $15.7 million plant met the requirements for nitrogen but was built before the requirements for phosphorus were known, he said. Nitrogen is a natural occurring element in the atmosphere and is discharged back into the air.
To meet the requirements for phosphorus, the district had to spend several thousand dollars. A chemical called Delpac, an aluminum salt, was added to precipitate the phosphates out of the effluent into the sludge the plant collects, Hovermale said.
“For a relatively small amount of money, we were able to reduce phosphorus,” he said.
Asked about the future, Hovermale said, “For the time being we are okay. We may eventually, five to 10 years out, have to make improvements.”
Keeping up with discharge requirements is a full time job. The state recently placed strict limits on the amount of copper and zinc discharged from the plant, based on assumptions made in Charleston, Hovermale said.
A public notice in the January 25 edition of The Morgan Messenger stated the Warm Springs Public Service District was applying to the state for a modification of their discharge permit relating to copper and zinc.
Asked what that was about, Hovermale said the public service district commissioned “a special study to determine the actual amount of copper and zinc being discharged and is applying for the modification to the permit based on actual numbers rather than the state’s assumptions.”
The Town of Paw Paw recently received a Small Cities Block Grant of $1 million from the West Virginia Development Office for sewer line improvements.
The project will replace sewer lines in the lower end of town from the old railroad bridge to the other end of town, which is the oldest part of the sewer system, Town of Paw Paw Recorder Regina Brack said.
The town is also replacing the pumping station.
The town’s sewer system has been notified of violations by the State Department of Environmental Protection.
The grant is one step toward bringing the system into compliance with the Chesapeake Bay Initiative. “It’s a huge problem for all municipalities and a huge cost for all of us,” Brack said.
Hancock Town Manager David Smith said the numbers for the TDML for Washington County are not yet finalized.
Smith said that if what the EPA is talking about is enacted, it will raise everyone’s tax assessment by to pay for upgrades to sewer
systems in the county.
Farm Bureau sues Feds
The American Farm Bureau Federation has filed a lawsuit against the EPA in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.
“We all want a clean and healthy Chesapeake Bay,” said Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman. “This lawsuit is about how we reach that common goal. Farm Bureau believes EPA’s new regulation is unlawful and costly without providing the environmental benefit promised.”