BALTIMORE (WJZ) — For decades, officials have kept a close eye on the Chesapeake Bay as a number of cleanup efforts were underway.

Tuesday, one of the largest projects officially wrapped up.

After years of construction, the Patapsco Wastewater Treatment Plant’s enhanced nutrient removal project (ENR) is now complete.

“Over the last several years, this has been one of the most important projects for the city, but also for the state of Maryland,” said Maryland Secretary of the Environment Ben Grumbles.

Environmentalists say excess nutrients and sediment are among the leading causes of the bay’s poor health. With the new upgrade, Patapsco will reduce its nitrogen and phosphorous discharge by at least 95 percent.

“You get the wastewater, the sewage from homes and businesses to the centralized treatment plant (and then) the treatment plant uses technology to squeeze out the bad stuff,” Grumbles said.

The project means the amount of nutrients discharged into the Patapsco River and ultimately the Chesapeake Bay will be significantly reduced.

“This cleanup effort is massive, and is necessary for the environment, the health of the environment,” Baltimore City’s public works director Rudolph Chow said.

Officials said the project will result in a healthier environment for fish, plants and other aquatic life.

“Making sure our harbor streams are clean, making it swimmable and fishable… it’s something our citizens enjoy. It’s very very important,” Chow said.

State leaders hope the projects also serves as a model for others to follow.

“We’re sending a strong signal to all the other states, the federal government, that we are walking the talk and we are just very proud of Baltimore for moving forward with us,” Grumbles said.

Similar work is expected at the Back River Wastewater Treatment Facility in the coming months.

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