Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Baltimore $#!* More Costly Than Ever

Cost overruns at Back River sewer plant add up
The Board of Estimates is expected to approve tomorrow additional cost overruns at one of the biggest infrastructure projects underway in the Baltimore region – an Enhanced Nutrient Removal facility at the Back River Wastewater Treatment Plant.

The new pumping station, designed to reduce the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus dumped into the Chesapeake Bay, was originally bid at $265 million by Archer Western Contractors two years ago.

The latest overruns of $10.4 million – combined with $5 million in earlier overruns – will add 6% to the cost of the project.
. . .
Under the improvements, nitrogen levels are expected to be cut by 90% in the wastewater released into Back River and the Bay. Chemical treatment at the plant already has reduced a large portion of phosphorus, which will be further cut by the new facility.

The cost overruns will pay for twice moving contaminated soils excavated at the site.
Originally, the soils were to be placed in an unnamed “residential landfill,” but the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) ruled that the soils’ chromium levels were too high for safe dumping.
No word on whether the chromium contamination is a result of Baltimore historical metal mining, refining and manufacturing industries, or naturally high levels in the soil (which is possible, as this occurs in several areas near Baltimore and was part of the reason the metals industries grew near there. But since Back River is traditionally Baltimore waste dump, I would guess the former.
The project is chiefly underwritten by the State of Maryland. The state will reimburse Baltimore about 94% of the cost of the latest EWO, Raymond said.
I would like to point out here, that we, the citizens of Maryland are subsidizing Baltimore's waste system, as part of the Chesapeake Bay cleanup.  I would prefer a system where Baltimore paid for it's own shit, but if this is the way it is (and thanks to Baltimore's weight in Maryland politics, it is), I would think that Eastern Shore farmers would have a valid claim for equal subsidies in their efforts to reduce nutrients and "Save the Bay."

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