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Manchester takes first steps in Chesapeake Bay-friendly wastewater plant upgrade

The town of Manchester is in the planning stages of an upgrade to its wastewater treatment plant, intended to reduce pollution that can harm life in the Chesapeake Bay.

The upgrade is an Enhanced Nutrient Removal upgrade. The “nutrients” are nitrogen and phosphorus. When they are not filtered out of wastewater, the travel back through the Chesapeake Bay watershed and act like fertilizer for algae blooms that harm other species like fish and crabs.

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Manchester Town Administrator Steve Miller announced at the June 9 Mayor and Town Council meeting that the first phase of testing and evaluating the plant began June 8.

Upgrading sewage treatment plants is one of the top environmental priorities of The Bay Restoration Fund, according to the Maryland Department of the environment. The fund is paid into by fees collected on water and sewage bills. It reimburses towns and cities for the costs of these project upgrades.

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The fund started out by focusing on larger wastewater treatment plants before funding upgrades for smaller plants. Only three of the 67 “targeted” plants in Maryland are still in the process of completing the ENR upgrades. Two of these, Hampstead and Westminster, are in Carroll.

Manchester is considered a “minor” plant. In June’s monthly report from MDE on the status of ENR upgrade projects, it was estimated that the upgrade could reduce nitrogen pollution by 22,800 pounds per year, post-upgrade. By contrast, the largest is from Patapsco, which began cutting back an estimated 2,609,952 pounds of nitrogen pollution per year from wastewater when it went into operation post-upgrade.

The meeting can be viewed through the Community Media Center on their website or YouTube channel. The next Mayor and Town Council meeting is scheduled for July 14.

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