A recently released feasibility report lists five possible sites for land treatment of sewage in Montgomery County and 12 possible sites in Prince George's County.
The report was commissioned by the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC), the bi-county sewer agency, and is expected to especially important to Montgomery County, which has no major waste-water treatment plants. Plans for a large treatment plant that was planned for Dickerson in Montgomery County were rejected last year by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Neighboring Prince George's has three major plants, which means it can enlarge its plants somewhat in reponse to increasing population.
The parts of both counties that are near the District have been under sewer moratoriums since 1970 because sewage capacity was falling behind the demand of the growing population.
Sites identified for possible land treatment in Montgomery County are in the vicinity of Sugarland, Dawson-ville and South Germantown in the western county. Muncaster Road in the central section and Columbia Pike in the east.
The Prince George's sites are mainly concentrated along the eastern and middle portions of the county ranging from the Montgomery County border west of Laurel to the Charles County border.
Land treatment is a process of cleaning wastewater that emphasizes returning nutrients to the soil. The wastewater is treated so that a majority of pollutants are removed, then the liquid is disinfected and spread on the land.
According to the report, a land treatment system could begin as early as 1980 in Montgomery County if approved by the county's officials. The county has applied for federal funding for a one-year study to provide further information about land treatment in the county.
The report says the total cost of a land treatment system would vary from 40 per cent to 85 per cent of the total cost of an equivalent conventional advanced wastewater treatment system. Specific cost estimates are not available and would come from later studies.
Land treatment is anticipated as being used in Montgomery County to fulfill capacity needs before long-term regional facilities are built.
In Prince George's County, however, the study said land treatment could be used to meet long-term needs, provide alternatives to expanding existing waste treatment plants or building future ones ones and could allow reuse of nutrients for forestry puposes.
The report states that if land treatment were used in the forest and agricultural land in the southeastern part of the county, it could be a viable alternative to the proposed expansion of the Piscataway sewage treatment plant.
In addition, irrigiation of forests with the treated water would accelerate tree growth and improve economic conditions in the county by attracting forestry related industry and increasing employment opportunities, the report says.
The report lists two options for managing that type of wastewater system. In both, the county or the WSSC would own the treatment system and purchase timber rights from the present land owners.
Under one option, the WSSC would either lease to or join in a cooperative venture with a consortium of farmers and residents in order to manage the forest products. Or the WSSC could lease to or join into a cooperative venture with a forestry firm or marketing interest.
The report also discusses the possibility of small land treatment systems that would serve local communities on an annual or seasonal basis.
Possibilities listed were Colmar Manor, where wastewater could help establish vegetation on the somewhat barren Anacostia River Park; Enterprise Golf Course west of Bowie and Robin Dale Country Club in Brandy-wine where wastewater could be used for supplemental irrigation.