MIRANT MID-ATLANTIC WILL FINANCE the construction of a distribution pipeline from La Plata’s wastewater treatment plant to Mirant’s Morgantown power plant, according to Mirant Mid-Atlantic’s Manager of External Affairs, Misty Allen.  The pipeline will deliver La Plata’s treated wastewater, also known as effluent, to the plant for use in its forthcoming wet-scrubbers.  Charles County’s acting director of Planning & Growth Management, Chuck Beall told the Board of Commissioners and Allen confirmed to The Bay Net that both entities and the Town of La Plata are currently negotiating the details of the project. 

Although the deal is not yet set in stone, Allen assured The Bay Net that all involved parties are working toward an outcome where Mirant finances the construction of the pipeline but the County owns and operates it.  The pipeline would fall under the County’s imminent new effluent utility as described by Beall and county Economic Development Director, John Reardon at last Tuesday’s Board of Commissioners’ meeting. 

“Mirant is committed to the line.  We need the water for the scrubbers,” Allen told The Bay Net.  We’re aware of the county’s concerns with groundwater use.  We’re thrilled to find this chance.”

Mirant must install scrubbers at its Morgantown plant to bring its emissions into compliance with standards dictated by Maryland’s Healthy Air Act of 2006.  The company chose to use wet-scrubbers, in part, because that process produces a sellable by-product, gypsum.  However, the source of the 1.8 million gallons of water per day the process needs has been a serious concern to county residents knowledgeable about the limited potable water supply from our underground aquifers. 

The county commissioners came under fire recently for themselves failing to represent the interests of residents adequately during Mirant’s application hearing before the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC).  The Board sent only one letter about water concerns, and sent it to the Maryland Department of the Environment instead of the PSC for its hearing file.  The Bay Net has since learned, however, that Adequate Public Facilities Program Manager, Jason Groth and Water Advisory Committee Chairman, Ernie Biles both gave evidence about water issues during Mirant’s application hearing. 

According to Allen, Mirant wants to use the effluent as soon as possible after the wet-scrubbers go online in January 2010, the deadline for compliance with the Healthy Air Act.  However, La Plata will first have to finish their wastewater system upgrades in order to consistently supply Morgantown with the quantity of effluent the plant needs.  The La Plata and Mirant aim to have the upgrades and pipeline completed by December 31, 2010.

“We’re building on past experience the County has with PandA,” said Allen.

Since 1994, the PandA power station in Brandywine has drawn 2.7 million gallons of effluent per day from the Mattawoman Wastewater Treatment Plant in Waldorf.  PandA uses the effluent in their cooling system, a different process than Morgantown’s wet-scrubbers