Baltimore is getting a $40 million federal grant to help upgrade its Back River sewage treatment plant and to eliminate the foul odors generated by the facility that have plagued Essex area residents for years, Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-3rd., announced today.
The grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will be used to install advanced waste treatment systems at Back River to remove nitrogen from the plant's wastewater discharge, said a spokesman for Mikulski.
Nutrients such as nitrogen from sewage and runoff are considered to be the major cause of poor water quality in Chesapeake Bay, and Maryland, along with other Chesapeake-area states have pledged to reduce nutrient pollution 40 percent by the end of the decade.
Curbing nitrogen discharges at Back River would be a major step in achieving that goal, since Back River's discharge of up to 180 million gallons per day is the largest single source in the state.
City officials have been upgrading Back River for some time and had already planned to install advanced waste treatment. But the EPA grant is expected to spare the city and Baltimore County from having to borrow the needed funds from the Maryland Department of the Environment, thereby sparing city and county utility customers from having to repay such a loan through higher rates.