JOPPA, Md — Changes may be coming to a permit for a church wastewater treatment plant that has been at the center of a controversy in Harford and Baltimore counties.
Mountain Christian Church and executive pastor Luke Erickson have been working on the permit for years, after identifying their current wastewater treatment plan was not sustainable.
Erickson said he worked with the Maryland Department of the Environment to come up with a proposal for a new wastewater treatment plant developed by an Owings Mills company, that would discharge a daily average of 2,400 gallons of treated wastewater into a tributary of the Little Gunpowder Falls.
"This permit is the most protective that MDE has ever issued, and the water discharged from the proposed WWTP exceeds the already stringent requirements for purity and monitoring. It is a state-of-the-art system designed specifically for the Chesapeake Bay area. The effluent from the WWTP is far cleaner than the stream into which it would flow and is monitored for optimal temperature, which is why these systems are in use all over the state and flowing into streams and rivers," said Erickson.
But the proposal was met with a lot of backlash from people who live near the river who are concerned about pollution and impacts to the environment. After attending two public meetings about the permit, Erickson said they are aware of the concerns and are re-evaluating the way forward. On Monday, the Baltimore County Council also unanimously voted to support a no-discharge permit option.
"Before we move further down the path toward the proposed permit, we are working with MDE to think creatively and discern if there are any other viable options. We will complete this exploration before advancing our pursuit of the current permit. We trust that the extra research, investigation, and investment will be worth it in order to ensure that when we arrive at the final solution—whether it’s the original plan or an alternative—it will indeed be the most optimal solution, which has been our commitment from the beginning," Erickson said.
Rob Kershner, the executive director of Innovative Treatment Products LLC, the creator of the treatment plant, said the water discharged would be much cleaner than the receiving water, free of bacteria, viruses and solids. Still, he's in the process of creating a plant of a California company that recycles the treated wastewater into the building's sewage system.
He said that could be an option for the church.