The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF), ShoreRivers, and Dorchester Citizens For Planned Growth have filed comments on the proposed Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) wastewater discharge permit for Valley Proteins, finding it critically deficient.
Valley Proteins is one of hundreds of Maryland facilities operating under outdated or unenforced water pollution control permits. The facility is responsible for about 40 percent of the total nitrogen pollution discharged to the Transquaking River, upstream of Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, and frequently violates its permits.
The new permit fails to include specific monitoring requirements, benchmarks for compliance, and provisions that automatically trigger MDE to inspect, fine, and require corrective actions.
In addition, the permit, as drafted, does not guarantee that “fishable-swimmable” water quality standards will be met in the Transquaking River. And because Valley Proteins discharges its pollution into Higgins Mill Pond, pollution can build up before it washes downstream causing significant damage.
Finally, Valley Proteins stores liquid waste in a giant tank in Wicomico County where residents complain of a foul stench. From there it is applied onto farm fields. The permit fails to provide accounting for where that waste is applied.
Responding to the deficient draft permit, CBF Maryland Executive Director Josh Kurtz said:
“It is MDE’s responsibility to ensure the health of Maryland’s waterways. This permit does not stop Valley Proteins from damaging the health of fish and other aquatic life in the Transquaking River, allows continued threats to human health, and permits damage to local businesses that rely on fishing and outdoor recreation.
“This permit could allow even more pollution to the Transquaking River. That is unacceptable. It flies in the face of MDE’s duty to restore local rivers, streams, and the Chesapeake Bay, and leaves a legacy of dirty water for future generations.”
Matt Pluta, ShoreRivers Choptank Riverkeeper and Director of Riverkeeper Programs said:
“The discharge permit, as currently drafted, offers the applicant the opportunity to increase their wastewater discharge to four times their current volume without proof that the river can handle any more pollution. This permit needs to be the mechanism that reverses the poor water quality conditions, such as the algal blooms and fish kills, that are increasingly threatening the Transquaking River’s natural resources. We don’t need more of the same - we need more accountability and greater protections for our water resources.”
Fred Pomeroy, with Dorchester Citizens for Planned Growth said:
“The unresolved issues contained in MDE's recently issued draft permit for wastewater discharge by Valley Protein, as well as additional releases of pollution since the November 16 Public Hearing, call into question the efficacy of the current status of the permit renewal process. DCPG wants this situation rectified before any new permit is issued. MDE should no longer be an enabler for the destruction of the Transquaking watershed.”
# # #