Hundreds of wastewater treatment facilities throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed are being upgraded with advanced technology to reduce the amount of nutrients that are discharged into the Bay's tributaries. Wastewater treatment plant upgrades account for a large portion of overall estimated nutrient reductions to date, and Bay jurisdictions are relying on additional reductions from wastewater to achieve about 15 percent of total overall nutrient reduction goals.
Since 1985, the Chesapeake Bay Program has been working towards a goal to reduce nutrient pollution from wastewater facilities to correct nutrient-related problems in the Bay and its tidal tributaries by 2010. As of 2009, the seven Bay jurisdictions – Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia – have met 78 percent of the goal to reduce nitrogen from wastewater and 99 percent of the goal to reduce phosphorus from wastewater.
In 2005, Chesapeake Bay jurisdictions began to implement a new permitting process that limited the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus that the Bay watershed's 483 significant wastewater treatment plants could discharge. To meet the nutrient limits, most of these facilities are being upgraded with nutrient reduction technology, including biological nutrient removal (BNR) and enhanced nutrient removal (ENR).
Some states, including Pennsylvania and Virginia, have created nutrient trading programs that encourage wastewater treatment plants to design upgrades with greater nutrient reductions, then sell nutrient credits to other facilities. Well-designed nutrient trading programs can be beneficial because they provide cost-effective solutions for some treatment facilities that need to meet stricter nutrient limits.
Technology upgrades are not the only way Chesapeake Bay jurisdictions are reducing nutrients in wastewater. Several laws have been passed that set strict limits on the amount of phosphorus in consumer cleaning products, including laundry and dishwasher detergents, to slow the flow of phosphates coming from Bay watershed homes.
Upgrades at Blue Plains will help the plant clean water and save energy.
Innovations in wastewater treatment could help plants curb pollution in the face of development pressure.
A new treatment plant will improve water quality in the Potomac River.
Trash, bacteria and nutrient pollution continued to plague Baltimore Harbor in 2011.
Maryland will provide $19 million in grants to upgrade nutrient removal technology at four wastewater facilities.
Old wastewater treatment plants can contribute nitrogen and phosphorous to the Chesapeake Bay, but plants across the watershed are being upgraded. Alan Quimby from the Queen Anne’s County (Md.) Department of Public Works explains how these upgrades will help the Bay.
Produced by Matt Rath
Music: “A Moment of Jazz” by Ancelin
Publication date: May 01, 1999 | Type of document: Report | Download: Electronic Version
This project was initiated on June 1, 1995 for the purpose of stimulating efforts towards the reduction of point source nutrient discharges to the waters of the Chesapeake Bay Water. The primary emphasis of the BNR retrofit recommendations…