Sewer Plant Improvements On Track

BERLIN – Slow behind-the-scenes progress is being made on the expansion of and improvements to Berlin’s wastewater treatment plant, and the process is still on track, according to the town of Berlin.

The Berlin Mayor and Council recently approved a letter to the state asking for continued permission to discharge treated effluent to Hudson’s Branch in the winter months, necessary to operate the plant.

The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) has restricted Berlin’s surface water discharge permit to the current 600,000 gallons per day (gpd), until Berlin has enough spray land and effluent storage to handle the planned 750,000 gpd.

“The application is being reviewed right now by MDE. We’d expect something maybe in the next 60 days,” Berlin town administrator Tony Carson said.

Berlin is permitted to discharge treated wastewater effluent into Hudson Branch between Dec. 1 and March 31. Spray irrigation cannot be used in winter months, only during the growing season.

During later spring, all summer, and the fall, Berlin disposes of effluent on spray irrigation land outside of town.

In late 2007, the Worcester County Commissioners imposed a total spray irrigation requirement on the town. Berlin must switch entirely to spray irrigation by 2013 under this edict.

Testing on potential spray irrigation land, roughly 200 acres in the Newark area in mid-county, began this week with the drilling of 40 monitoring wells on site.

Late winter and early spring, the beginning of the wet season in Worcester County, is a crucial time to test the spray capacity of the land, said Berlin Water and Wastewater Director Jane Kreiter.

“This window of time MDE really looks at critically. Once we cross this hurdle, the rest of it tends to be a little downhill,” Kreiter said.

The town of Berlin should have enough information on the potential spray irrigation land to make a decision whether to proceed with further testing on that site within a couple of months.

“Overall, it takes up to a year for the testing,” Kreiter said.

Work on the plant could begin in the fall.

“We’re going out to bid maybe early summer, maybe award toward the end of summer. I think we’re where we want to be,” said Carson. “Everything’s right where we thought it would be.”