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Chesapeake Bay restoration fee raises $1.2 billion to upgrade wastewater treatment plants

Chesapeake Bay restoration fee raises $1.2 billion to upgrade wastewater treatment plants

PASADENA, Md. (WBFF) -- Thirteen years after Maryland imposed a Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fee on homeowners, $1.2 billion has been raised to upgrade wastewater treatment plants.

Environmentalists say the goal is to help prevent leakage of aging sewer plants which contaminate the Chesapeake Bay.

Around $200 million has been invested to upgrade six plants in Anne Arundel County.

Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh visited the Cox Creek Wastewater Plant in Pasadena with Former Maryland Governor Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr. who helped secure passage of the restoration fee in 2004.

Ehrlich says there was initial opposition from both Democrats and Republicans but he convinced legislators the fee was critical to help improve the quality of the bay.

"It's a fee which means people are going to be able to see in very tangible form those dollars go to a specific purpose and that's really what today is about," said Ehrlich.

Alison Prost, Maryland Executive Director of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, says "It's not an overstatement to say that without the bay restoration fund, Maryland wouldn't be the leader that it is on bay restoration.

"We're getting smaller dead zones, abundant grasses, clearer water and it's all paying off."

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation rating for the bay has risen to 34, up from 32 in 2014 and only 23 in 1983.

Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuch says the fee

"will be incredibly effective in cleaning wastewater that will lead directly to improved health of the Chesapeake Bay."

Shuch says $200 million has been invested to upgrade the county's six wastewater treatment plants.

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