By Greg Ellison
(April 29, 2021) Planning for upgrades to water and wastewater capacities was the focus of a presentation given by Josh Taylor with Davis, Bowen and Friedel, during the Berlin Mayor and Town Council meeting on Monday.
Taylor opened with an overview map of existing water storage tanks, wells, pump stations and the wastewater treatment plant. He then outlined proposed infrastructure improvements over the next few years based on these elements.
“The three drinking wells in town produce 1,700 gallons per minute of water,” he said.
Maryland Department of the Environment capacity limits for Berlin includes an average daily flow of 500,000 gallons, with a maximum monthly use of 750,000 gallons.
“Looking at the last five years, you’re averaging about 400,000 GPD, so you do have some room there,” he said.
Despite that assessment, Taylor said Berlin’s gallons of water per day figures have been climbing over the last five years.
In 2020, Berlin’s average GPD reached 440,000 or 88 percent of daily flow allowances.
“Don’t let that worry you,” he said. “Your wells have much more capacity than your appropriation permit is rated for.”
Taylor said Berlin officials have already discussed applying for an increase to water appropriations, while also stressing the importance of infrastructure maintenance.
“We need to make sure we keep up on maintenance of the wells so they continue to operate at an efficient capacity,” he said.
Maintaining elevated water storage tanks is also a priority, Taylor said.
In addition to the 200,00-gallon elevated tank on Franklin Avenue, Berlin also has a 250,000-gallon tank on Route 346 east.
“That’s more than your average daily usage, which is a good thing,” he said.
Taylor recommended two improvements for water systems in Berlin, starting with replacing meters.
“We get a lot of lost revenues from the water meters that you have right now,” he said. “Basically, that’s money being thrown away by the town.”
Taylor also proposed adding a generator at the town’s largest well on Powellton Avenue.
Berlin’s wastewater treatment plant had a permitted capacity of 750,000 GPD.
“Looking at last few years of wastewater flows, you’ve actually had a slight reduction,” he said.
Still, Taylor cautioned that trend could reverse in the near future.
“Berlin is growing at a faster clip than a lot of neighbors,” he said. “We’ve got to make sure to stay on top of treatment plant capacity,” he said.
When wastewater treatment plants reach 80 percent capacity, Maryland encourages municipalities to consider facility expansions.
“We are starting that,” he said.
Looking at reserve EDUs (equivalent dwelling units) Taylor said Berlin is at 76 percent of permitted capacity with 83 EDUs currently.
Berlin would reach 80 percent with an additional 132 EDUs, with 732 EDUs required to reach the maximum permitted.
“The focus is on the wastewater treatment plant because that’s where the permanent capacities come in,” he said. “But, the backbone of the sewer system in Berlin is really the pump stations, gravity sewer collection and force mains that run throughout the town and gets all that wastewater to the plant.”
Taylor said two pump stations located at 346 east and west date back two decades and are slated for improvements.
“We are seeing a lot of development in those areas,” he said.
Additionally, pump stations on Broad Street and William Street are also in line for work.
“Broad Street is the oldest pumping station I’ve ever been in,” he said.
Constructed in 1935, the Broad Street pumping station was last updated in 1958.
“We are planning this year to design a replacement to the Broad Street pumping station,” he said.