DoD, Maryland Partner to Reduce Damage to Chesapeake Bay Caused by Local Military Establishments

Impacts Fort Meade, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Fort Detrick and naval support facilities in Annapolis and Indian Head

On Wednesday, an agreement between the State of Maryland and the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) was signed that will vastly improve efforts in restoring the Chesapeake Bay watershed at DoD installations across Maryland. Specifically, the agreement will continue implementation of watershed improvement projects such as upgrading wastewater treatment plants to achieve enhanced nutrient removal (ENR), stabilizing eroding shorelines, and creating or enhancing stream buffers and wetlands.

At a ceremony at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Secretary of the Environment Kendl P. Philbrick and Deputy Secretary of Natural Resources Ron Guns were joined by Alex A. Beehler, Assistant Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Environment, Safety, and Occupational Health) and Donald R. Schregardus, Deputy Asst. Secretary of the Navy (Environment), in signing a Memorandum of Understanding, which details specific actions the federal agency will take in helping to restore the Chesapeake Bay.

“This historic agreement unites Federal and State government in protecting Maryland’s natural resources,” said Governor Ehrlich. “I applaud the Department of Defense for agreeing to go above and beyond the milestone we set with the Bay Restoration Act of 2004 by investing millions of dollars into the restoration of our greatest environmental resource – the Chesapeake Bay.”

Under this new agreement, DOD will use the funds to upgrade sewage treatment plants at five of its largest installations over the next four years: Fort Meade in Anne Arundel County; Aberdeen Proving Ground in Harford County; Fort Detrick in Frederick County; and the naval support facilities in Annapolis and Indian Head. When the upgrades are completed, the plants will be able to treat 12 million gallons of sewage a day.

The agreement also specifies that providing DoD continues its watershed improvement projects, such as the aforementioned upgrading of wastewater treatment plants, shoreline stabilization, and creating or enhancing stream buffers and wetlands, Maryland will not seek to collect approximately $900,000 in fees associated with the Maryland Bay Restoration Fund.

DoD has invested more than $15 million over the past three fiscal years in projects improving the Chesapeake Bay’s ecosystem. Projects include $1 million for shoreline stabilization at Aberdeen Proving Ground, $980,000 for upgrading sewer lift stations at Andrews Air Force Base, and more than $1 million for creating a living shoreline at the Naval Support Facility near Solomons Island.

“DoD will continue to balance and integrate defense activities with the Chesapeake Bay’s restoration and protection,” said Beehler. “We will employ new technologies and practices that improve our environmental programs and commitments to the Bay. The challenge we face and shall meet is to achieve a secure, sustainable future that contributes not only to the success of our armed forces and our nation, but also to the success of restoring and protecting the Chesapeake Bay.”

Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) today applauded the announcement. This effort, which Senator Mikulski has been fighting for since 2005, will make federal funds available immediately to reduce pollution flowing into the Chesapeake Bay.

"I was very concerned to hear about the untreated sewage and chemicals from our military bases ending up in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Maryland cities and towns need to do the right thing for the environment by upgrading their water and sewer infrastructure - but they can't do it on their own," said Senator Mikulski. "That's why I have worked so hard to bring our partners at the Pentagon into this process."

According to a recent article in the Baltimore Sun, DOD is a regular polluter of the bay. In the past decade, the Aberdeen plant has flushed 5.4 million gallons of partly treated sewage into the Bush River. The Indian Head Naval Surface Warfare Center in Charles County has received two federal violation notices, one for washing coal ash into the Potomac River and another for spilling 14 million gallons of sewage. In addition, Fort Meade has spilled more than 200,000 gallons of raw sewage into the Little Patuxent River and nearby waterways.

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