NewsLocal News


Community to meet with experts about Back River issues

Posted at 9:58 AM, Apr 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-12 09:58:10-04

BALTIMORE (WMAR) — The Back River Restoration Committee is holding a community meeting Tuesday night to hear from experts about the situation at the treatment plant.

Three weeks ago, the state took control over the Back River Wastewater Treatment Plant after continued discharge violations and operational issues.

Blue Water Baltimore, and the state, have also filed suits against the city in regards to the plants problems.

Baltimore’s Harbor Waterkeeper Alice Volpitta will be among those speaking.

“Temperatures are warming up and that means that people are going to be coming into contact with their local waterways more and more often as we get further into the spring and summertime. So these issues are really important to the people who are living and playing in the back river community,” said Volpitta.

In addition to talking about the past issues and the lawsuits in progress, she will offer an opportunity for people to be involved in the roll out of their community water quality testing pilot program next month.

“We're looking at providing residents with some materials that they need and the knowledge that they need to do some sampling in the Back River on their own accord. What that looks like is taking a sample of water wherever people are interested in what the bacteria content is in that location, probably around parks or off of people's own docks, and then we'll be able to run those samples at Blue Water Baltimore's office and provide bacteria results in 24 hours,” said Volpitta. “This is just to kind of see where we are. This is to establish a baseline of bacteria content in the Back River.”

The meeting starts at 7 p.m. at Hawks Pleasure Club. A state delegate, county councilman and representative from the Maryland Department of the Environment are also set to present.

According to MDE, the Maryland Environmental Service management team was onsite at Back River WWTP every day the week of March 28, identifying operational and maintenance issues and developing plans to make improvements at the plant. This management team is being led by MES’ Managing Director of Water and Wastewater, along with experts in operations and maintenance, engineering, biosolids, construction management, and safety and compliance.

Eleven MES licensed operators and a supervisor, who is also a licensed operator, reported to the site last Monday morning to begin orientation and training, detailing operational duties and testing/sampling requirements. Operators will begin working in three shifts this week to allow for 24-hour coverage. In addition, three to five MES maintenance staff members have been on-site to begin to address the need for skilled operators and the lack of maintenance staff.