More than a third a the Maryland industrial facilities that reported stormwater discharge since 2014 exceeded pollution limits for potentially harmful chemicals, according to a report from nonprofits Center for Progressive Reform and the Environmental Integrity Project. While municipal stormwater runoff is the fastest growing source of nutrient pollution in the Chesapeake Bay, industrial operations create runoff that can include copper, aluminum, zinc and lead, along with other pollutants.
Industrial facilities are required to have stormwater permits that regulate runoff and to report their on their discharge, but in Maryland, those “general permits” issued by the Maryland Department of the Environment have less specific and sometimes less stringent requirements than industrial facilities would have if they were required to have a permit specifically focused on pollution discharge, the groups say.
The general permits have been issued to more than 900 industrial facilities in the state, but only 228 of those are required to report on quarterly monitoring of discharge. Of those, only 180 of these facilities provided MDE with the required quarterly sampling reports, and 40% of those that did report to the state submitted incomplete data. Further, 65 out of these 180 sites exceeded acceptable pollution levels in four consecutive quarters, on average, between January 2014 and March 2017.
Six types of industrial sites are required to test their stormwater runoff for levels of pollution that may harm water quality: Chemical and allied products facilities, landfills and land application sites, automobile salvage yards, scrap recycling and waste recycling facilities, food and kindred products facilities, and facilities that manufacture fabricated metal products.
Automobile salvage facilities ranked worst among all sectors, with 30% of that sector failing to submit any monitoring reports during that time period. Of the 87 automobile salvage, scrap metal recycling, and landfill sites that submitted stormwater testing results during that period, 50 failed to report results for at least one of the required pollutants at a required outfall. These industrial sectors ranked as the top three offenders in violation of this permit requirement.
Wastewater Treatment Market
While it is clear that some industrial facilities are not yet adhering to water management requirements, others are rapidly buying into the industrial water treatment technologies market. In fact, the market for such technologies is expected to grow 50% by 2020 as water resources become increasingly strained, according to a new report from the UN Water and published by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).