The Town of Chestertown recently received notice of a $30,000 fine from the Attorney General of Maryland Department of Environment (MDE) for failing to meet wastewater treatment standards in 2013.
MDE claims that phosphorus levels—set for Bay Total Maximum Daily Load— did not meet state standards intermittently between August and December 2013, but that the $10,000 per day fine would be reduced to three days, $30,000.
Total Maximum Daily Load (TDML), also known as the “pollution diet”, sets pollution limits to meet wastewater quality standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency. It is designed to significantly reduce nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment pollution in the Bay.
Town Manager Bill Ingersoll, sitting in for Town Utilities Manager Robert Sipes, said, “We don’t agree with it. We have a state of the art (facility) out there, and I think if you wait two years or a year and half to tell someone you are in technical violation that it’s wrong.”
The town will be consulting with environmental law specialist Michael Forlini at Funk and Bolton to challenge the fine.
Ingersoll praised Utilities Manager Bob Sipes. “I think Mr. Sipes runs an outstanding operation and I think any town would be proud to have him.”
He also noted that the TMDL law states that a violation would have to be a “willful” act of disregard to qualify and dismissed that accusation as absurd.
“Mr Forlini is going to look into other fines in the area—the gas stations, and bigger entities in violation, what happened to them? I hope this is not an effort by the State of Maryland just to raise funds,” Ingersoll added.
The video is from Monday’s town council meeting.