Mystic Harbor Sewer Plant Needs Replacing, Report Finds

HILL – The Mystic Harbor wastewater plant must be replaced, concluded
the four-year sewer report created by ‘sewer czar’ Dennis Escher, but
regionalization is not part of his recommendations.

report was commissioned originally as a sewer regionalization study on how to
handle growth in the northern end of Worcester County, but the focus of the
study changed when the new comprehensive plan, approved in spring 2006,
established specific growth areas.

each county wastewater plant and service area individually, Escher concluded
that most were in good shape and need little in the way of changes.

Mystic Harbor sewer plant, however, was a red flag. Escher termed it “the big
one of the day” when he presented the report to the County Commissioners on

35-year-old plant needs to be replaced within the next five years, Escher
concluded, because of capacity and effluent disposal problems.

three quarters of the assigned EDUs are in use, but the plant often runs at
full capacity, and Escher estimates that the addition of the remaining hook ups
will push flows up by 35 percent.

no redundancy to this plant,” Escher told the commissioners.

32 injection wells and an innovative vegetation nutrient removal system cannot
handle more effluent. The Maryland Department of the Environment has indicated,
according to the report, that it would not permit installation of more
injection wells.

disposal alternatives are costly or simply not viable.

15th Street pump station in Ocean City does not have enough
capacity, Escher said, and it is not feasible to store the sewage and pump it
at night.

irrigation, the favored alternative of the County Commissioners, would require
a lot of land. There is some appropriate farmland available in the area, but
not enough, and the county might need to consider using woodlots, according to
the report.

 “You can find enough woods,” Commissioner
Virgil Shockley said.

Louise Gulyas asked if Escher had considered spraying effluent at the Ocean
City Airport.

said airport representatives had approached him six months ago about just that.

realize they were trying to go through me to get to you folks,” he said,
referring to the airport’s desire for county support of a proposed runway

ocean outfall would be far too expensive, according to the report. Three years
ago, Escher said, Rehoboth, Del., investigated an ocean outfall, only to be
told it would cost $22 million.

made an innovative suggestion about disposing of treated effluent through the
Ocean City Inlet. Seventy percent of the water in the bay there leaves in the
first two hours of the outgoing tide, he said, and treated effluent could be
pumped into the outgoing water.

means you only fish on the incoming tide?” Commissioner Bud Church joked.

water’s clean,” Escher said. “I think it’s very feasible.”

county is already working on a temporary link between the Mystic Harbor sewer
system and the West Ocean City sewer system, said John Ross, deputy director of
Worcester County Public Works.

distance between the two systems is about 500 feet. An emergency connection
could be made in a matter of hours, Ross said.

quipped that all they needed was two hacksaws and some PVC glue.

could actually have a new treatment plant in three years,” if preliminary
arrangements were begun this month, said Escher. The cost of the new plant,
about $7.5 million with the purchase of a new site, would be covered by adding
1,000 EDUs.

recently expanded Ocean Pines plant, on the other hand, is just fine the way it

plant operates extremely well,” said Escher, consistently coming in well under
the total maximum daily load limit for the St. Martin River.

is why Ocean Pines [is] the only plant in the state exempt from the flush fee,”
said Commissioners Judy Boggs.

switch to spray irrigation would cost about $11 million, Escher said, and need
about 700 acres.

the Greater Ocean Pines Sewer Service Area is established, Escher estimated
that it would pay for itself at $11,500 per each of the 611 EDUs.

report concluded that River Run, Assateague Pointe, and Riddle Farm sewer
systems also function well.

Showell Perdue wastewater plant, proposed by developer ADC Builders to serve
1,000 new homes, should be converted to three or four parallel systems, Escher
said, to accommodate groups of homes as they are completed.

the county wants to pursue some regionalization of the sewer systems, Escher
suggested jumping on board with the Berlin municipal sewer plant expansion.
There is a lot of farmland available for spray irrigation there.

“It’s something to
think about,” Escher said.