ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Howard County Executive Calvin Ball today announced that due to steps taken by the County’s Department of Public Works’ Bureau of Utilities to reduce the number of sanitary sewer overflows throughout the county, the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) has terminated its Sewer Consent Decree with the County. MDE established the decree with the County in March 2010 to decrease the number of sanitary sewer overflows caused by infiltration, grease and capacity.
Sanitary sewer overflows don’t just threaten our public health and property, but also threaten our environment, resulting in serious damage to and pollution of our streams, rivers and the Chesapeake Bay. I applaud our Bureau of Utilities team for meeting this challenge head on and executing solutions that ensure our sanity sewer systems operate effectively and efficiently.
Since 2010, the Bureau of Utilities has implemented several capital projects to study and evaluate sewer service throughout the county and rehabilitate public sewer house connections. The Bureau has also standardized its method of reporting overflows and expanded its sewer system geographic information system mapping to include all water and sewer assets and locations. All new sewer main installations are also inspected to insure they meet current standards.
The Bureau of Utilities annually cleans out one-fifth of the County sewer mains and inspects one-twentieth of County sewer mains via closed circuit television video to identify any inflow and infiltration in the sewer system, and make repairs as needed. Staff also routinely inspect the County’s extensive network of sanitary sewer main outfalls to assess conditions and make any necessary repairs.
As nearly 50 percent of all sewage overflows nationwide are caused by homeowners who improperly dispose of everyday fats, oils and grease (FOG), the Bureau of Utilities strives to educate residents, as well as business owners, on how to properly dispose of FOG. Since 2011, there have only been three overflows related to commercial businesses as sources of FOG.
Finally, the County is diligent in its oversight of maintenance and calibration of the sewer flow meters which measure the flow of collected sewage to both the Little Patuxent Water Reclamation Plant as well as the Patapsco Wastewater Treatment Plant.
Since the enactment of the decree, because of the diligent maintenance efforts of our Bureau of Utilities, we successfully reduced our overflows by nearly 70 percent. Which puts us well below the State average.