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Federal money aid in sewer plant treatment

September 09, 2002|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

Washington County will receive more than $400,000 in federal funds to remove pollutants from the Conococheague Wastewater Treatment Plant, according to a statement from U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski's office.

Washington County Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook said Sunday that the project, called the Biological Nutrient Removal treatment system, is an ongoing process statewide.

The project, which the County Commissioners approved in February 2000, allows the plant to remove nitrogen and phosphorous from sewage before the treated wastewater is released, a county official said.

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At the time, the county estimated the project would cost about $5.9 million, with the state and federal governments paying 40 percent, or about $2.8 million, of the cost.

"It's very helpful," Snook said of the outside funding. "It helps maintain the rates that we have."

Sen. Mikulski, D-Md., announced last week that the county will receive $440,000 from the Environmental Protection Agency's State and Tribal Assistance Grant program. The program provides federal money for certain water and wastewater projects.

The Conococheague treatment plant project is part of a state effort to clean up water discharged into the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay.

Mikulski said in a written statement that she asked for the money to be included in a fiscal year 2002 appropriations bill

"The Chesapeake Bay is one of the nation's greatest natural resources," Mikulski said in the statement. "The preservation of these resources is vital to our economy, culture and heritage."

U.S. Sen. Paul Sarbanes, D-Md., said in a written statement that nutrient pollution is the most serious problem facing the Chesapeake Bay.

"The overabundance of both nitrogen and phosphorous continues to rob the Chesapeake Bay of life-sustaining oxygen," Sarbanes said.

At one point the county was facing biological nutrient removal costs of up to $13 million because the upgrades would have also been needed at the Nicodemus Wastewater Treatment Plant.

The county, however, closed the Williamsport plant in July 2001 and diverted the flow to the Conococheague plant at the industrial park north of Williamsport at Interstates 70 and 81.

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