Waste treatment plant needs to expand again

July 03, 1994|By Sherrie Ruhl | Sherrie Ruhl,Sun Staff Writer

The expanded Sod Run Wastewater Treatment Plant officially opened Wednesday with speeches, a ribbon-cutting and plenty of politicians, state officials and county administrators.

But no sooner had the expansion been duly lauded than Harford County Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann began talking about the next phase, which will nearly double the plant's capacity.

Mrs. Rehrmann said the just-completed expansion of the Perryman facility, from 10 million gallons to 12 million gallons daily, was a "stopgap" measure to meet the county's immediate needs.

The next phase to increase the plant's capacity to about 20 million gallons daily could be completed by 1998, she said.

"This will give us the capacity to meet the county's needs well into the 21st century," Mrs. Rehrmann said.

She said the county cannot build more houses or attract more businesses beyond the current growth rate without capacity to treat waste.

"There is no moratorium on growth," said George F. Harrison, county public relations spokesman. "But our growth rate is based on our ability to manage our growth. We can't have growth without adequate facilities."

He said there are about 1,500 residential water and sewer hookups each year.

Wayne H. Ludwig Jr., chief of operations, said every resident living in the county uses Sod Run.

"If you have garbage, a septic tank, are hooked up to water and sewer, you are using this facility," he said. For example, the county has about 30,000 septic tanks, he said; and when the septic tanks are pumped, the raw sewage is taken to Sod Run.

Mr. Ludwig said expanding to 20 million gallons a day would take care of anticipated growth until the year 2020. He said it is much less costly to do one large expansion than to do smaller expansions every few years.

The 2 million-gallon-a-day expansion took about 20 months and cost $13.5 million. The planned 8 million-gallon-a-day expansion has an estimated price tag of $42 million; it could be started as early as next year.

That expansion also will allow Sod Run to remove phosphorus and nitrogen from wastewater. Both chemicals harm marine life in the Chesapeake Bay by killing grasses and producing excess algae.

"We are not under any federal or state mandates to do this, but it is the right thing to do," Mrs. Rehrmann said.

Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia officials are meeting this summer to finalize plans for cleaning up the bay by the year 2000.

The next Sod Run expansion has the approval of the County Council, said county administrator Larry Klimovitz. He said officials would have to go back to the council for permission to sell bonds to pay for the project.

Construction of the Sod Run Wastewater Treatment Plant began in 1964.

It opened in 1968 with a capacity of 100,000 gallons daily and now employs about 25 workers.

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