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State orders a stop to Baltimore City's dumping of polluted waste water from Back River Treatment Plant

Maryland Department of the Environment
Posted at 2:59 PM, Mar 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-24 15:00:24-04

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — The Maryland Department of the Environment on Thursday ordered Baltimore City to halt the unloading of polluted waste water from its Back River Treatment Plant.

Some of those pollutants, include nitrogen and phosphorus. Department officials say they put Chesapeake Bay restoration efforts at risk.

The order was issued after a state inspection earlier this week “revealed the precipitous decline of the functioning of several critical processes at the Plant in comparison with prior inspections.”

It further states “the decline in the proper maintenance and operation of the Plant risks catastrophic failures at the Plant that may result in environmental harm as well as adverse public health and comfort effects.”

The order gives the City 48-hours to comply with all Clean Water Act permit conditions.

Earlier this year, the department filed suit against the city seeking civil penalties and a court order requiring them to come into permanent and consistent compliance with environmental law, at their water treatment plants. That case is still pending.

The Back River plant is the largest in Maryland, designed to discharge up to 180 million gallons a day of treated wastewater.

State officials want the City to provide an adequate number of qualified operating staff to handle the maintenance and testing functions at the Back River plant.

The full order can be read here.