The Maryland Department of the Environment in April will begin notifying downstream localities about plans for wastewater discharge permits.
This is a direct result of last year’s controversy over plans by a Harford County mega church to build a wastewater treatment plant that would have discharged into Little Gunpowder Falls, according to Baltimore County Delegate Dana Stein.
The discharge from Mountain Christian Church would have flowed into Baltimore County. That caused an uproar from people who live in the Kingsville area, just over the line from Harford.
Baltimore County officials also were irked because MDE did not notify them about Mountain Christian’s plans. Stein had proposed legislation to force MDE to notify affected localities, but he says that is no longer necessary because MDE has agreed to make the change itself.
MDE now has agreed to notify jurisdictions that share a watershed with the locality where a discharge permit is being proposed.
“It makes sense considering it in the context of watersheds,” Stein said. “That’s really where the concern is, that if something would be introduced in part of a watershed that was in one jurisdiction, but then the discharge could move downstream through the watershed that’s in a different jurisdiction, would that new jurisdiction get notice? This policy change will accomplish that.”
Baltimore County Councilman David Marks, who represents the Kingsville area, last year proposed a resolution, passed by the county council, that took the rare step of opposing a project in an adjoining county.
Marks is happy with MDE’s decision to notify affected jurisdictions.
“It is an example of collaboration between two levels of government,” Marks said.
“This represents an improvement in transparency and notification of local officials so that the situation that happened with the Mountain Christian Church wouldn’t happen again,” Stein said.
Mountain Christian eventually withdrew its request for the discharge permit.