Although it is unfortunate that the Ocean Pines Sanitary Service Area ratepayers will be hit with an additional $15 charge in their next bill, there remains a slim chance that the Worcester County Commissioners may be able to have it reversed.
This week the Commissioners were notified that the Ocean Pines plant missed Maryland Department of the Environment nitrogen removal standards by a fraction and therefor lost the exemption it has been generally granted for pollutant-removal efficiency. Although it happened once before the MDE set the readings aside, saying that the standards were unreasonable given the low water temperature.
Both the Commissioners and the County Staff can be forgiven for expecting that it would again be set aside but since staff changes at the MDE have gone into affect there are apparently new policies being pushed. This is the way of government generally.
The Ocean Pines plant is one of the most efficient in the state so the issue is as much a matter of pride as of money, as it should be. The practical affect of the nitrogen overage, given the water temperature at the time, is nil.
It is important for the Commissioners to at least make the point to MDE that, even if the standards weren’t met, the County did met its responsibility as it regards environmental stewardship. The Commissioners’ decision to press for restoration of the exemption was a good one.