Worthington Park (New Cut Landfill) - Change in groundwater remedial action

New Cut Landfill (now known as Worthington Park) was a County operated landfill from the 1950's until 1980. During that period, the landfill accepted municipal waste, but also solvents and cleaners that would not be accepted at a sanitary landfill today. In the mid 1990's, the County conducted a Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study (RIFS) to study the impact of these wastes and to recommend methods to contain and treat potential contaminants in the groundwater. Based on recommendations from the RIFS, the County improved the landfill cap constructed a system to contain and treat the site's groundwater. 

The site has a series of monitoring wells around the perimeter of the property (see map below - click to make larger). Since the start-up of the system, the water in the monitoring wells along the perimeter of the site has met EPA drinking water standards. The recovery wells on the other hand, generally closer to the landfill center contained contaminated water. This water was pumped to a treatment/stripper system. By pumping from the recovery wells, contaminants were prevented from exiting the site. The stripper removed the volatile organic contaminants and allowed the treated water to be discharged to the stream along New Cut Road. The removed contaminates were emitted to the atmosphere where natural UV light rendered them harmless.


 Aerial View of New Cut Landfill                                                       Well N-008

The RIFS recommended that the site be remediated by natural biodegradation. Natural biodegradation, often called bioremediation, is a naturally occurring process where microbes in the landfill and the native soil breakdown organic contaminants as a food source. It is a passive, gradual process, but it is consistently effective.

As a result of natural biodegradation, water in the monitoring wells around the site perimeter has met drinking water standards since 1996 and water in the recovery wells began to meet drinking water standards in 2012. Since then, the concentration of both the volatile organic contaminants and their breakdown components have decreased further. Both the County and the Maryland Department of Environment (MDE) are pleased with the success of the site remediation.

This does not mean that the County's work is done. Our goal is to ensure that drinking water standards can be maintained without any human intervention. From 2001 to 2019, pumping from the recovery wells impacted the site's groundwater flow, capturing contaminated groundwater and allowing for natural biodegradation to occur. Given that the pumped water met drinking standards, the next step, which started in July 2019, was to stop pumping the recovery wells and to monitor to see if drinking water standards can be maintained. The pumping and treatment system will remain in place in case it needs to be used again. The MDE approved the County's plan for monitoring and its conservative approach to restart the system. 

New Cut Landfill Groundwater Remediation System Status Report and Shutdown Plan

Please direct questions about the program to Jeffrey Dannis, P.E., CSP, Operations Division Chief at 410-313-6419.


Is water that meets EPA drinking water standards free of all contaminants?

    No. All drinking water (not distilled water) contains dissolved substances such as minerals, salts, carbon dioxide and often has added chemicals like chlorine and fluoride to ensure safety and added public health benefits. The contaminant levels accepted in drinking water reflect the level that protects human health.

What is my water source?

    All houses in the neighborhoods around Worthington Park are on public water provided by the County. The latest water analysis report can be found on the DPW-Bureau of Utilities webpage.

Is the public exposed to waste at Worthington Park?

    No. In 2000, the County improved the cap at the closed landfill ensuring that waste has 24" to 60" of soil on top of it.

Did shutting down the groundwater system affect any other environmental controls in place?

    No. No changes have occured at the gas, stormwater or solar systems on site.

How long will it take to determine if remediation was successful?

    The shut-down plan calls for a minimum of 4 years of monitoring. This timeline assumes that bioremediation is successful and no conditions arise that would trigger restart of the system.

Can I look at the groundwater data?

    Yes. The last 3 years of laboratory analysis for each well is available for perusal at the Bureau of Environmental Services main office at 9801 Broken Land Parkway. Please contact Hugh Murphy at 410-313-0525 to schedule an appointment. Older data or other data is also available. Freedom of Information Act requests may be filed with the County's Public Information Office.

Has the County done shutdowns before?

    Yes. This shutdown is the third groundwater treatment system returned to natural conditions by Howard County. The County has installed 5 remedial systems since the passage of the Clean Water Act.

Will this impact our enjoyment of Worthington Park?

    No. This will not impact the dog park, or uses of the open space.