Ground Broken On Major County Sewer Plant Projects

WEST OCEAN CITY — Major steps in improving sewer treatment in Worcester were launched this week with groundbreaking ceremonies for two significant wastewater treatment plants in opposite ends of the county.

On Tuesday morning, federal, state and local officials broke ground on a new state-of-the-art $14.6 million wastewater treatment plant for the town of Snow Hill. A couple hours later, the same contingent put shovels in the earth during a groundbreaking ceremony for a $12.5 million replacement of the Mystic Harbor wastewater treatment plant in West Ocean City.

The Mystic Harbor treatment plant replacement is expected to increase the capacity of the existing facility by 450,000 gallons per day, providing to total of 1,666 equivalent dwelling units, or EDUs. The new plant is intended to provide sewer service for existing infill lots throughout West Ocean City while allowing commercial users to grow within the Mystic Harbor and West Ocean City sanitary service areas.

In addition, the new plant may be used to provide public sewer service to many properties currently on aging and failing private septic systems, reducing nutrient discharges into the Coastal Bays and providing both economic and environmental benefits. The new Mystic Harbor plant will treat wastewater to enhanced nutrient removal standards, while serving as an aesthetically pleasing neighbor to existing residential and commercial areas.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is the sole funding source for the West Ocean City sewer plant replacement, providing a low-interest loan to the county in the amount of $7.8 million. The USDA is also providing a $4.7 million grant to the project through its Rural Development program.

“Replacing the former Mystic Harbor wastewater treatment plant with a new plant equipped with an enhanced nutrient removal treatment process that’s good for the environment has been our highest priority project,” said Worcester County Commission President Bud Church, who participated in the groundbreaking on Tuesday along with his colleagues and state and federal officials. “We would like to thank the USDA for making this project possible at a rate that’s affordable to the users through the combination of a low interest loan and grant funds. Their support has made this critical infrastructure project a reality.”

Meanwhile, earlier on Tuesday, federal USDA officials, along with the County Commissioners and other local officials participated in a similar groundbreaking ceremony for a $14.6 million upgrade of the wastewater treatment plant for the town of Snow Hill. The major Snow Hill plant upgrade is being funded by a $1.3 million USDA low-interest loan, a $1 million USDA grant, an $8.9 million grant from the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE), a $2.8 million loan from the state’s revolving fund, and another from the state’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program.

Snow Hill Mayor Stephen Mathews cited a Benjamin Franklin quote, “without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement and success have no meaning,” during his remarks at the groundbreaking.

“This holds true with the efforts being made through the upgrade of the Snow Hill wastewater treatment plant,” he said as he thanked the project’s funding partners. “Without them, we not be hear today to embark on this wonderful endeavor. It’s efforts like these that will help bring people back to the workforce.”