Cumberland officials mark completion of plant upgrades

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Cumberland Times-News, June 22, 2011, Michael Sawyers


CUMBERLAND — Thirty-seven million dollars later, Cumberland’s wastewater treatment plant is as technologically advanced as it can be, reducing the emissions of nitrogen, phosphorous and solids as much as possible.

“We are at the limits of technology,” said Mayor Brian Grim on Wednesday morning at a dedication and celebration of the upgraded plant at the end of Offutt Street and a stone’s throw or two from the North Branch of the Potomac River.

“This is your flush tax at work,” Grim said, referring to the tax money paid as a result of the passage of the Chesapeake Bay Restoration Act.

The bulk of the cost, $27 million, came from the flush tax; another $6 million from President Barack Obama’s stimulus package and the remainder from the Maryland Water Quality Revolving Loan Fund.

Total nitrogen effluent is now 3 milligrams per liter and phosphorus is .3 milligrams per liter, substantial improvements intended to clean the river and, subsequently, the Chesapeake Bay. The local plant, one of 66 major wastewater treatment facilities in the state, can handle 15 million gallons per day.

“This was a high-priority project for us,” said Walid Saffouri of the Maryland Department of the Environment, the agency that channeled project funding to Cumberland. “We started talking with the city about this in 2004.”

The project included improvements or replacements for clarifiers, filters, biological reactors, pumps and aerators as well as construction of a sludge drying/pelletizing facility and storage units for methanol.

Whitman Requardt & Associates designed the upgrade. Project Manager Jeffery Thompson said Wednesday that it is one of the most successful efforts with which he has been associated.

Construction was by Carl Belt, Inc.

The plant was built in the 1950s, upgraded in the 1970s and again in 2002.

John DiFonzo, the city’s director of engineering, coordinated the dedication and said what everybody there had been discussing, that there was no unpleasant odor on a hot day in June.

Contact Michael A. Sawyers at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .