Pollution Diet

Recognizing a Milestone in Bay Cleanup

by Tom Damm

EPA Regional Administrator, Shawn M. Garvin, speaking at the Blue Plains Wastewater Treatment Plant

EPA Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin speaking at Blue Plains 

With a labyrinth of the most advanced wastewater treatment infrastructure glistening and churning in the background, a cadre of the region’s top environmental officials had an announcement to make this week.

Wastewater treatment plants in the Chesapeake Bay watershed together were effectively meeting their 2025 pollution limits 10 years ahead of schedule.

The announcement was made at the giant Blue Plains Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant in Washington, D.C. – the largest such plant not only in the watershed, but in the world.

Among the audience members were employees at the plant in their hardhats and bright green DC Water shirts, who, on behalf of their colleagues around the watershed, earned praise from the podium and applause from the crowd.

EPA Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin said the wastewater sector was “leading the way” in the effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay and local waters, reducing nitrogen to the Bay by 57 percent and phosphorus by 75 percent since 1985.

Blue Plains workersJoining EPA at the event was Maryland Department of the Environment Secretary Ben Grumbles, District Department of Energy and Environment Director Tommy Wells and DC Water CEO and General Manager George Hawkins.

They spoke on a landing above one of the stops in the Blue Plains treatment process – the $1 billion Enhanced Nutrient Removal facility that helps the plant discharge water to the Potomac that’s cleaner than the river itself.  (Surprisingly, at least for a first-timer to the plant, there was only a slight whiff in the air of the action happening in the open channels below.)

The event was an opportunity to give the wastewater industry its due; to recognize the achievements driven by advances in technology, enforceable Clean Water Act permits, funding from ratepayers and local, state and federal sources, operational reforms and phosphorus detergent bans.

And while the sector will need to maintain those limits in the face of population growth, and while other sectors will need to do their share to meet the goals of the Bay “pollution diet,” it was a day of well-deserved handshakes to mark a major milestone.

 

About the Author: Tom Damm has been with EPA since 2002 and now serves as communications coordinator for the region’s Water Protection Division.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Chesapeake Bay Road Trip!

Public Meeting Locations

By Christina Catanese

This fall, EPA will travel all around the Chesapeake Bay watershed to hold 18 public meetings to discuss the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL), or the strict “pollution diet” to restore the Bay and its network of local rivers, streams and creeks.  After EPA issues the draft TMDL on September 24th, the agency will go on the road for the 45-day public comment period to get your feedback.  So pack some snacks in the car and throw on your favorite driving music, and join in the Chesapeake Bay public meetings road trip!

From the southeastern coast of Virginia all the way up to New York State, citizens in the watershed will have a chance to hear more about the new nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment limits for the watershed.  Starting at the National Zoo in Washington DC on September 29 and ending in Romney, WV in early November, public meetings will be held in each of the six states and D.C. that are part of the Chesapeake Bay’s far-reaching watershed.  One meeting in each state will also be broadcast online via webinar for those unable to attend in person.

Do you live in the Chesapeake Bay watershed?  Are you interested in learning about the Bay TMDL and how it will help improve waters in your area as well as the nation’s largest estuary?  EPA wants to hear your suggestions as it seeks to protect human health and the environment by improving water quality in the bay and its vast drainage area.  And check out the Bay TMDL web site (http://www.epa.gov/chesapeakebaytmdl/) for information on how to submit formal comments to EPA on the Bay TMDL.

I’m planning to attend the meeting in Lancaster, PA on October 18…what about you? Visit the Bay TMDL website to find a public meeting near you.

About the Author: Christina Catanese has worked at EPA since 2010, and her work focuses on data analysis and management, GIS mapping and tools, communications, and other tasks that support the work of Regional water programs. Originally from Pittsburgh, Christina has lived in Philadelphia since attending the University of Pennsylvania, where she earned a B.A. in Environmental Studies and Political Science and an M.S. in Applied Geosciences with a Hydrogeology concentration. Trained in dance (ballet, modern, and other styles) from a young age, Christina continues to perform, choreograph and teach in the Philadelphia area.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.