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The North Beach Town Council approved a resolution Jan. 10 declaring the town’s official intent to participate in the Enhanced Nutrient Reduction upgrade of the Chesapeake Beach Wastewater Treatment Plant.

The Maryland Department of the Environment’s ENR program upgrades wastewater treatment plants to reduce nitrogen and phosphorous discharges into the Chesapeake Bay, according to the Maryland Department of the Environment website. With the “six Bay sates,” including Maryland and Washington, D.C., participating in the ENR upgrade, the bay and its tidal portions of its tributaries will hopefully be removed from the impaired waters list.

Holiday Highlights winners

The winners of the Holiday Highlights contest were announced during Thursday’s North Beach Town Council meeting.

In the home category: •Nicole Wallace won first place; •Tim and Caren Gallaudet won second place; and •Joseph Ezell won third place.

In the business category: •Beauty by the Bay on Chesapeake Avenue won first place; •Wheel Clothing Store on 7th Street won second place; and •Old Town Company on Bay Avenue won third place.

Mayor Mark Frazer said Chesapeake Beach is being required by MDE as part of the ENR upgrade to increase the flow capacity of the plant from 1.32 million gallons per day to 1.5 million gallons per day, an 180,000 gallon per day increase.

During a phone interview Jan. 11, Chesapeake Beach Mayor Bruce Wahl said Calvert County, the Town of North Beach and Anne Arundel County are all “partners” in the plant, and those three jurisdictions, along with Chesapeake Beach, contribute flow to the plant. Chesapeake Beach is the principal owner of the plant, he said, because the town uses the largest percentage.

“When the agreement was crafted decades ago between the various jurisdictions, Chesapeake Beach was made … the lead agent,” Wahl said. “We’re responsible for its operation and upkeep.”

The ENR upgrade and plant expansion together will cost about $16 million, Frazer said, and only a small percentage of that cost is contributed to the expansion. The largest percentage is attributed to the ENR upgrade, which will reduce the amount of nitrogen and phosphorous going into the Chesapeake Bay.

Each of the four jurisdictions, because they are tied into the plant, will share the cost of the upgrade. Frazer said North Beach’s prorated share through the capacity of the plant is 24 percent of the cost of the upgrade.

Prior to approving the resolution, the council also voted for Frazer to sign a letter to Chesapeake Beach stating that North Beach does not feel it’s necessary to purchase additional tap capacity to participate in the expansion of the plant. The council did include language in the resolution for the possibility of participating in the expansion, meaning they could purchase additional taps at a later date if necessary.

“Later on down the road, if the town wants to purchase taps, that’s what the town means by participating in the expansion,” Frazer said during a phone interview Tuesday.

Wahl said the plant has increased its capacity over the years, but increases are not needed as much right now because “building everywhere has really slowed down.”

Currently, the plant has a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System rating of 1.32 million gallons per day, Wahl said, and the plant needs to be built to 1.5 million gallons per day capacity to qualify for funding from the Maryland Water Quality Fund Administration, which is the principle source of loans and bonds to finance infrastructure improvements. The town is purchasing 900 additional taps to expand to the 1.5 million gallon rating.

Wahl said Chesapeake Beach doesn’t have immediate need for the expansion but the town will still move forward with it.

“It’s kind of like money in the bank, because if … there becomes more demand [to build] in Calvert County, which I think possible, and it exceeds the amount of taps they already have in reserve, we’ll have them available and we can sell [taps] to them without having to expand the plant,” Wahl said.

Wahl said there “is a push at the state and federal levels to get people off of septic and onto sewer” systems. He said because the plant is doing an ENR upgrade, it made sense to move forward with the expansion because when the opportunity arises for people to move from septic to sewer systems, the plant will have the capacity to do so.

“If we just give away our ability to expand the plant, we may not be able to accommodate” homes switching from septic to sewer systems, Wahl said. “It just seems prudent to me that we need to build it out. We need to make the investment now.”

Another reason for the upgrade and expansion, Wahl said, is there is a certain allocation of phosphorous and nitrogen that can be in the plant’s discharge, which “transmits into the technology of the 1.5 million gallon per day plan.”

Wahl said, “If you need further capacity going forward, you’re going to have to have some sort of technology to remove the nitrogen and phosphorous from the water so you can get the flow to go up. We’re basically approaching the limits of today’s technology with this upgrade.”

In other business:

• The North Beach Historic Preservation Commission gave the council an update on its storyboard project. The commission has completed its second storyboard, which details early businesses within the town;

• In a 5-1 vote, the council voted to rent an ice skating rink from Fantasy World Entertainment for Friday, Feb. 8, through Sunday, Feb. 10; and

• The council voted to issue a request for proposal for planning the passive park on 3rd Street.

kfitzpatrick@somdnews.com