Baltimore City Department of Public Works Details Months of Progress at Back River as the Consent Order Extends

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Today, the Baltimore City Department of Public Works (“DPW”) announced key improvements made at the Back River Wastewater Treatment Plant (“WWTP”) over the past eight months. The Consent Order and Revised Directive extension, issued by the Maryland Department of the Environment (“MDE”) to build on the collaborative efforts of DPW and the Maryland Environmental Service (“MES”) and to ensure continued compliance at Back River, has been extended through April 30, 2023.

Under the leadership of Director Jason Mitchell Ed.D in partnership with MES, DPW has made substantial progress toward full compliance at Back River. Over the past eight months, Back River has been in compliance with effluent permit levels and suspended solids, biochemical oxygen demand, total phosphorus and ammonia, and total nitrogen levels have decreased significantly.

Additionally, as a result of the Headworks Project, which helps DPW fulfill requirements to address sanitary sewage overflows, a longstanding “bottleneck” that existed in pipes conveying wastewater to Back River has been eliminated. The Headworks facility at Back River is now able to process 750 million gallons of wastewater a day as compared to the 180 million gallons Back River was able to process before the Headworks Project launched.  

“Since the approval of the Consent Order in June, and subsequent extension in October, we have made tremendous strides toward full compliance at Back River. Thanks to the incredible efforts of over 130 DPW employees at Back River, alongside support from MES, we are proud of the improvements made to upgrade and make Back River more efficient,” said Mitchell, the Director of the Department of Public Works. “We continue to work to make improvements at Back River and ensure the Headworks facility reaches its full potential. DPW looks forward to building on eight months of momentum and remains committed to protecting the health and safety of Baltimore City’s waterways.”

The April 30, 2023 extension of the Consent Order will allow MES to perform the projects and services necessary to ensure continued compliance at Back River. When the Consent Order extension expires, MES project managers will continue to manage the capital improvements projects at the plant until the completion of those projects.

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