CBF Statement on Updated Lakeside at Trappe Discharge Permit

On Thursday, Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) released a final determination on a new discharge permit for the Lakeside at Trappe development on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
The permit enables the new development to spray about 100,000 gallons per day of treated wastewater onto farm fields—a system that’s different than the more typical process in Maryland of piping treated wastewater into a waterway. The 100,000 gallon per day discharge limit is a significant decrease from the 540,000 gallons per day allowance that was requested in the initial permit application.  

The permit would enable about 400 homes to be built in the small Eastern Shore town of Trappe, pending other approvals. The Lakeside at Trappe developer previously proposed building about 2,500 homes and additional commercial buildings. MDE noted that the permit would need significant modification and additional public review should the developer pursue building more than 400 homes.

CBF previously filed a lawsuit over the Trappe permit when MDE was still considering permitting 540,000 gallons per day of treated wastewater to be discharged by spray irrigation. CBF paused the lawsuit after MDE re-opened public comment on the permit after being ordered to do so by a Talbot County Circuit Court judge.

CBF’s primary concerns continue to be the potential for excessive pollution to contaminate groundwater and surface water and that efforts to mitigate that pollution won’t be required to fully offset the amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus still present in the treated effluent. MDE has asserted that vegetation in the spray fields will uptake the remaining pollutants after pretreatment, a position that could enable the development and MDE to bypass requirements to reduce pollution under the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint.

In response to the changes in the new Lakeside at Trappe discharge permit, CBF Maryland Eastern Shore Director Alan Girard issued the following statement:

“MDE should be given credit for significantly scaling back this permit that posed tremendous risk to water quality on the Eastern Shore. It appears the agency listened to feedback from the community, although it’s unfortunate that public outcry once again drove MDE to revisit its approach rather than fully ensure water quality is protected in the original draft permit. We thank members of the public and other environmental organizations who worked to oppose the inadequate initial permit.

“We remain concerned about the potential precedent this could set by allowing a development to bypass Bay cleanup requirements through spray irrigation on farm fields. Already, Maryland accounts for pollution leaving the state’s wastewater plants and is required to offset pollution loads with investments in clean water practices if pollution caps are expected to be exceeded. With MDE effectively ruling that this development won’t create water pollution due to the spray system, it’s possible that the nitrogen or phosphorus that does make its way through groundwater from the spray field and into Bay tributaries won’t be accounted for and mitigated appropriately. We urge MDE to continue to examine this issue.”

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A.J. Metcalf

Former Maryland Media & Communications Coordinator, CBF

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