- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Strategies to develop Charles County’s plan to clean up its waterways and the Chesapeake Bay moved forward Tuesday with approval from the county commissioners.
The strategies, which the county needs to submit to the Maryland Department of the Environment by Nov. 18, outline what the county intends to accomplish in the next two years toward developing a watershed implementation plan for the county.
The draft plan states the county will upgrade municipal wastewater treatment plants, upgrade septic systems and retrofit stormwater systems to provide additional nutrient reductions.
A Nov. 9 memo to the county commissioners states that the county health department receives funding to provide 75 percent to cover the costs of septic system upgrades. The remaining 25 percent is the landowner’s responsibility.
The memo proposes a strategy to spend $200,000 in MDE funds for fiscal 2012 and $100,000 in county capital improvement program funds in fiscal 2013 to offset the cost of up to 50 units per year. The county also intends to hook up at least 10 septic systems to wastewater treatment plants per year.
In the county’s CIP, upgrades to urban stormwater facilities are expected in fiscal 2012 for Pinefield, Acton-Hamilton, Bryans Road, Bannister, Fox Run, Lancaster, Northwood, Ryan Woods and White Plains.
Proposed stormwater upgrades for fiscal 2013 are Westlake, remaining neighborhoods in St. Charles and Potomac Heights.
MDE will include the county’s intial draft strategies in a WIP plan it will submit to the EPA in December.
A WIP is a plan the state had required local jurisdictions to develop to reduce nutrient loads of nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment in the Chesapeake Bay’s waterways in order to meet state and federal goals.
The plan will aim to reduce nutrient runoff from four areas: agriculture, urban stormwater, septic systems and wastewater treatment plants.
The strategies, also called two-year milestones, call for the county to develop a draft WIP plan by June 30, 2013.
Between now and then, a local WIP team will analyze several best management practices projects to determine which BMPs provide the greatest nutrient reduction for the lowest cost.
The team has met six times from March to September and will continue to meet as the plan goes forward.
BMPs are various methods that reduce the movement of nutrients and sediment into waterways. An example is bioretention, which filters stormwater into a pit and slows down the flow of stormwater.
The local WIP team also will develop various scenarios in order to propose several options for handling the costs of BMPs and reducing nutrient loads by 2017 and 2020, which the state has required.
After the local team reviews the scenarios, there will be a public meeting to present the data and receive comments. A final recommendation will come to the county commissioners for their review and approval.
At Tuesday’s meeting, commissioners’ Vice President Reuben B. Collins II (D) asked whether county planning staff would request an extension to meet goals by 2025 instead of 2020, as Maryland Association of Counties representatives had recommended.
Planning Director Steven Ball said that staff welcomes an extension, but they are prepared to move forward to meet requirements by 2020.
County planning staff developed the additional dates and cost information in response to concerns commissioners’ President Candice Quinn Kelly and Collins (D) expressed at a commissioners’ meeting Nov. 8.
Kelly (D) said she wanted to know more information about the timeline of the plan, as “this will have serious ramifications in terms of budget proposals.”
Kelly said the board needed to know the timeframe and cost of the plan so that it could plan accordingly.
“Jurisdictions are reaching the conclusion that costs are formidable to the point where it is impossible to implement the plan,” Collins said.
County planning staff included several milestones in the Nov. 9 memo to county commissioners for the county’s local WIP team to complete the plan by that date.
By June 30, the team is expected to document and integrate proposed cleanup practices from La Plata, Indian Head and the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Indian Head Division.
By Sept. 28, 2012, the team will use a Maryland assessment scenario tool to evaluate BMP scenarios and the amount of nutrient and sediment reductions they provide.
By Dec. 31, 2012, the team will use technical experts to assist the county to develop a list of preferred BMPs and include permit requirements and costs from the county’s municipal separate stormwater sewer systems permit.
Currently, the permit is in a negotiation period as part of a required review every five years. The county is expected to receive the permit by June 1.
By March 30, 2013, the team will modify the scenarios, evaluate alternative scenarios as they relate to costs and reduction efficiency, develop protocols for tracking and reporting nutrient loads, develop lists of BMPs, establish final cost estimates and funding sources, and present its findings to the public and elected officials.
By the end of June 2013, the team will develop a commitment to advance and secure funding to meet the goals and complete the final draft of the WIP Phase II plan.
The local plans represent the second phase of WIPs. The first phase consisted of seven major jurisdictions in the watershed submitting plans to the EPA and the establishment of a Chesapeake Bay watershed limit for nutrient loads, called a total maximum daily load.
The seven jurisdictions are Maryland, Washington, D.C., Virginia, West Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania and New York.
Maryland established that local jurisdictions will need to meet interim and final goals by 2017 and 2020, respectively, as part of the first phase of WIPs.
The state released revised nutrient reduction numbers in September that Charles County will need to meet by those dates.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s TMDL for the bay watershed, which it established at the end of last year, is 185.9 million pounds of nitrogen per year, 12.54 million pounds of phosphorus per year and 6.45 billion pounds of sediment per year.
The EPA’s goal to meet the TMDL is 2025.
For more information
The Nov. 9 memo to the county commissioners is available on BoardDocs at www.charlescounty.org under the commissioners’ Nov. 15 meeting.
For more information on Charles County’s Local WIP II Team, go to www.charlescounty.org/pgm/planning/ and look for the WIP II Team link under “Boards/Commissions/Committees and Work Groups.”
To look up more information on the allocations for Charles County and other Maryland jurisdictions, go to http://www.mde.maryland.gov/programs/water/tmdl/tmdlimplementation/pages/md_wip_phase_ii_target_load_summaries.asp.