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Another hearing sought on proposed sewage plant

by Tom Chillemi

On Thursday, July 23, the State Water Control Board (SWCB) is scheduled to consider granting a permit for the proposed Saluda wastewater treatment plant.

The meeting begins at 9:30 a.m. in House Room C at the General Assembly Building in Richmond, and is open to the public.

Those who commented during the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) public comment period will be permitted to address the SWCB at this meeting.

Roger Martin of Urbanna, an opponent of the proposed sewage treatment plant, has filed a written request with DEQ asking that the public hearing period be reopened for 60 days.

DEQ staff replied negatively to Martin’s request via email. “The State Water Control Law requires the State Water Control Board to give the applicant a decision within 90 days of the close of the (public) comment period. The only way the Board can delay a decision is if the applicant agrees,” wrote Rick Weeks of the DEQ.

Middlesex County has applied for re-issuance of a permit to build a 39,900-gallon-per-day treatment plant, which is expandable, to serve the courthouse, county offices and parts of Saluda.

In April, Middlesex officials agreed to delay a decision by DEQ to allow time for the completion of a “land application” study being done by the Hampton Roads Sanitation District (HRSD). This study is in process and will determine the feasibility of applying treated wastewater to land, instead of discharging into Urbanna Creek.

Jim Pyne, chief of HRSD’s Small Communities Division, recently said the final report may not be ready before the July 23 SWCB meeting.

Martin’s request to reopen the public comment period states that the land application report is vital to the SWCB’s decision on the plant.

Martin also noted that during the question-and-answer period of the January 21, 2009 DEQ public hearing, county administrator Charles Culley said the county’s permit to pump-and-haul wastewater from the Saluda courthouse area was “temporary.”

Later it was learned the county’s pump-and-haul permit is “permanent,” wrote Martin.

Martin notes that Middlesex County is not a member of the Rappahannock River Basin Commission, an advisory body on water quality and natural resources in the basin. Urbanna has applied to join the commission, and a town council member wants to address the SWCB on possible issues, including the ultimate amount of the discharge.

Also at its July 23 meeting, the SWCB could act on a petition asking that Urbanna Creek be designated a “Tier 3” body of water, which would provide certain protections for the creek.

Related Articles:

Officials await report on land application of effluent
Council wants creek protected
Pinetop supervisors: ‘Halt spending on sewage plant’
Sewage permit hearing postponed
Land application to be considered
County’s permit to pump & haul has no expiration

posted 07.15.2009

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