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Chesapeake Bay News

Archives: January 2012

Jan
04
2012

$19 million in grants to reduce nutrient pollution from Md. wastewater treatment facilities to Chesapeake Bay

Maryland will provide more than $19 million in grants to reduce nutrient pollution to the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers by upgrading technology at four wastewater treatment plants in the state. Upgrading wastewater treatment facilities to remove more nitrogen and phosphorus from treated sewage is a critical part of meeting Bay cleanup goals.

The four facilities that will be upgraded are:

  • Back River Wastewater Treatment Plant (Baltimore City) will receive $15 million to plan and design Biological Nutrient Removal (BNR) and Enhanced Nutrient Removal (ENR) facilities. After the upgrades, the facility will reduce its nitrogen discharge to the Back River by 67 percent.
  • Maryland City Water Reclamation Facility (Anne Arundel County) will receive $2.973 million to plan, design and construct ENR facilities. After the upgrades, the facility will reduce its nitrogen discharge to the upper Patuxent River by 62.5 percent and its phosphorus discharge by 70 percent.
  • Westminster Wastewater Treatment Plant (Carroll County) will receive $1 million to plan, design and construct ENR facilities. After the upgrades, the facility will reduce its nitrogen discharge to the upper Potomac River by 62.5 percent and its phosphorus discharge by 85 percent.
  • Gas House Pike Wastewater Treatment Plant (Frederick County) will receive $758,000 to design and construct BNR refinements and an ENR upgrade. After the upgrades, the facility will reduce its nitrogen discharge to the Monocacy River by 67 percent and its phosphorus discharge by 85 percent.

Biological nutrient removal (BNR) uses microorganisms to remove nitrogen and phosphorus from wastewater during treatment. Wastewater treated at facilities using BNR contains less than 8 milligrams per liter (mg/l) of nitrogen. Enhanced nutrient removal (ENR) improves upon the nutrient reductions achieved through BNR. Wastewater treated at facilities using ENR contains 3 mg/l of nitrogen and 0.3 mg/l of phosphorus.

Funding for the upgrades comes from Maryland’s Bay Restoration Fund – also known as the “Flush Fee.” To learn more about wastewater treatment plant upgrades in Maryland, visit the Maryland Department of the Environment’s website.


Jan
02
2012

Seven ways to save the Chesapeake Bay in 2012

The tradition of making New Year's resolutions has existed since the ancient Babylonians. Each year, we challenge ourselves to improve some aspect of ourselves or our lives.

This year, we asked our Twitter followers how they will resolve to help the Chesapeake Bay in 2012. As individuals, we can do lots of things to protect the Bay and its rivers; not just for our own benefit, but for the good of everybody.

Here’s a list of eight great New Year’s resolutions that folks just like you are committing to in 2012!

1. Schedule and attend regular cleanups along your local stream or river

Volunteers at cleanup

(Image courtesy Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay/Flickr)

As the oldest of five siblings, my parents always made me clean up messes that I didn't make. When I was a kid, I argued that "this isn't fair." Perhaps this is the most difficult thing about trash pickups – it doesn't seem fair to clean up after other people when you weren't the one who did it. But as an adult, I realize that carelessly discarded trash all ends up in the same place: our waterways, where it damages ecosystems, harms wildlife and destroys the natural beauty of our region.

Stream cleanups are something we can participate in a few Saturday mornings a year. Volunteering for, or even organizing, regular cleanups in your neighborhood can bring your community together and make it more beautiful for everybody! To find a cleanup near you, contact your local watershed organization.

2. Replace paved driveways and sidewalks with permeable pavers

Sidewalks and driveways are typically paved, “impervious” surfaces that do not allow rainwater to soak into the ground. Instead, it runs off, picking up pollutants such as oil, fertilizer and dog waste on its way to the nearest stream or storm drain.

permeable pavers

(Image courtesy reallyboring/Flickr)

Permeable surfaces, such as pavers, allow stormwater to slowly soak into the ground, reducing flooding and polluted runoff. Check with your local landscaping company; most offer porous paver options.

3. Use natural cleaning products

Remember, cleaning products go down the drain, too, eventually ending up in our streams and rivers. Of the 17,000 petroleum-based chemicals cleaners available for home use, only 30 percent have been tested for their effects on human health and the environment. Choosing a naturally based cleaner will lessen any potential risks to your health and our waterways. You can even make your own cleaning products (which would also help you achieve resolution #7!).

4. Use less

pile of trash bags

(Image courtesy scarlatti2004/Flickr)

If you paid attention to your neighborhood's curbside during the holiday season, you likely noticed a surprising amount of trash. (An extra million tons of waste is generated each week between Thanksgiving and New Year’s in the United States.) Sure, it's great to recycle all those boxes and bags, but recycling still takes energy and money. Why not consume less to begin with?

Here are some great tips to get you started. If you're really serious, check out these funky zero-waste toolkits for your home, religious organization, classroom or workplace.

5. Ride your bike more and use your car less

Fuel costs are soaring, you're weighed down by too many holiday treats, and you actually have to go back to work. Instead of hopping in your car, uncover that old Cannondale in the garage and get riding! Bike riding saves money and helps prevent pollution from vehicle exhaust from entering the Bay and its rivers.

bicycle

(Image courtesy gzahnd/Flickr)

In some parts of the Bay region, like Baltimore and Washington, it may actually be quicker and more enjoyable to bike ride than to sit in traffic each day. In Washington, D.C., there’s even a Bikestation, where you can lock your bike and shower before heading into the office.

6. Teach our children how they can live compatibly with nature

While they may be able to tell the difference between an iPod and an iPad, most children don't know how to identify the plants and animals in their own backyard. Growing up in a world of hand-held virtual realities, it’s no surprise that the younger generation has lost touch with the great outdoors.

child with flower

(Image courtesy seemakk/Flickr)

Since Richard Louv's revolutionary book, Last Child in the Woods, concluded that children have developed social and physical health abnormalities as a result of "nature deficient disorder," a multitude of groups have formed to get kids outdoors. Join a nature play group near you to share your creative, kid-friendly outdoor adventures!

7. Get out there! Explore the Bay and its rivers

kayaker by marsh

Why would you try to save something you didn’t care about it? From New York to West Virginia, there are thousands of opportunities to get outside and enjoy your piece of the Bay. Check out the Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network for parks and natural areas near you. For water warriors, the Captain John Smith Chesapeake Historic Trail will introduce you to historic and beautiful scenes only accessible via kayak, paddleboat or sailboat. Kids and adults alike enjoy geocaching, a fancy word for a treasure hunt using a GPS.

So, what’s your New Year’s resolution for the Bay? Tell us about it in the comments!

Caitlin Finnerty's avatar
About Caitlin Finnerty - Caitlin Finnerty is the Communications Staffer at the Chesapeake Research Consortium and Chesapeake Bay Program. Caitlin grew up digging for dinosaur bones and making mud pies in Harrisburg, Pa. Her fine arts degree landed her environmental field work jobs everywhere from Oregon to Maryland. Now settled in Baltimore, she is eagerly expecting her first child while creating an urban garden oasis on her cement patio.



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