Following the Talbot County Circuit Court’s dismissal of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s (CBF) challenge to Maryland Department of the Environment’s (MDE) wastewater treatment permit for the Lakeside at Trappe development, CBF today filed an appeal to the Appellate Court of Maryland.
MDE’s Discharge Permit for the Trappe East Wastewater Facility allows the use of spray irrigation to discharge 100,000 gallons of treated wastewater per day onto Talbot County farm fields. Generally, treated wastewater is discharged from sewage treatment plants into a local waterway. The Trappe plant, which uses out-of-date technologies to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus pollution, is currently at its maximum discharge limits and cannot discharge the additional wastewater from the new development into La Trappe Creek. The creek flows into the Choptank River, both already listed by MDE as impaired due to excess nitrogen and phosphorus.
MDE contends that spray irrigation of effluent from the Trappe development will effectively result in “zero net discharge” of nitrogen and phosphorus pollution to local waterways. However, CBF asserts that MDE has not effectively proven that this discharge won’t increase pollution from the development and change in land use.
Nitrogen and phosphorus from treated wastewater can fuel harmful algal blooms in local rivers, streams, and the Chesapeake Bay, creating oxygen-deprived dead zones inhospitable to marine life.
As a result, the permit fails to ensure that the requirements to prohibit increases in pollution under the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint, also known as the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load, will be met.
Following the filing, Paul Smail, CBF Vice President for Litigation, issued this statement.
"The law is unequivocal. MDE must ensure there is no additional pollution from this development. Science does not support MDE’s assumption that there will be 100 percent vegetative uptake of nutrients from discharges from systems such as this one. If the legal requirement of no additional pollution cannot be guaranteed, under all circumstances, then this system simply should not be permitted.”