James Rada, Jr.
Although the Emmitsburg Town staff comprehensive energy plan presentation in April focused primarily on financials, it also looked at how Emmitsburg was becoming a greener and more sustainable community.
Maryland currently has only thirty-five certified sustainable communities out of sixty-seven towns and cities that are working toward that goal. Emmitsburg has been certified a sustainable community in 2015.
A number of projects that the town sponsors haven both improved the quality of life in Emmitsburg and contributed toward the town achieving its certified sustainable status. These projects include: the community gardens; the Emmitsburg Farmers Market; the town’s multi-user trails; the sidewalk project that made it easier to walk from place to place throughout the town; the pet waste ordinance; the Emmitsburg Business and Professional Association; solar fields; LED street lights; and the new algae-control system in Rainbow Lake.
Also, as benefit to being a certified sustainable community, Emmitsburg gets priority when applying for state grants.
“We do get grant priority because we are certified, which opens the door to a lot of funding we would not get otherwise,” said Town Manager Cathy Willets.
This priority helped the town get $250,000 in Community Legacy Grants, which have helped improve business facades in town.
While the use of LED street lights save the town money, they also use 60 percent fewer kilowatt hours. The PowerStar System on the sewage treatment plants optimizes the power used at the plant so that less energy is used.
The new algae-control system not only saves the town 642,250 gallons of water a month, but it significantly reduces the amount of chemicals needed to treat that water. The installation of the system has freed up the equivalent of 85 water taps.
While the new wastewater treatment plant was a state-mandated project, it has allowed the town to reduce the levels of nitrogen and phosphorus in the water, which is good for the Chesapeake Bay.
The solar fields have allowed the town to avoid producing 5.7 million pounds of carbon dioxide since their installation.
Future green projects planned for the town include: the installation of two electric car charging stations in town; rain barrels and composting; a water conservation plan; watershed stewardship; and tree planting.