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Land application to be considered

by Tom Chillemi

Following a “sewage summit” on April 14, Jim Pyne, chief of the Small Communities Division of Hampton Roads Sanitation Division (HRSD), said the HRSD Commission will consider a request to perform a land application study as a way to dispose of wastewater in the Saluda and Urbanna area.

Delegate Harvey Morgan, who called for the summit that included officials as well as citizens, said he hopes Middlesex County will consider land application for its proposed 39,900-gallon-per-day Saluda treatment plant. “What can we lose?” he asked.

The proposed Saluda plant would discharge into a ditch behind the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office that flows into Urbanna Creek.

Pyne said the study would be only for land application—not a treatment plant—and would include flows from what HRSD considers “central Middlesex.”

The study is on the agenda for consideration by the full HRSD commission at its April 28 meeting.

Robert Crump, chairman of the Middlesex Board of Supervisors, said the county is willing to consider land application of treated wastewater. “Our plant has been designed for water re-use, which is a higher level treatment than land application, and that’s the way it will be built.”

The treated wastewater could be used to irrigate athletic fields and for industrial non-potable use, Crump added.

Crump said HRSD’s land application study will have to find a large piece of land that is close enough to the treatment plant to make land application feasible. “The county is willing to do most anything that is cost effective, feasible and a long-term solution,” said Crump.

Janet Smith, a member of the Urbanna Town Council, said one possibility is using land that has been donated to a land conservancy.

Crump is concerned about the long-term effect of land application, and runoff of nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus that could build up if they are not absorbed by the vegetation.

A single treatment plant for the Saluda-Urbanna area is a long-term goal, said Crump. “We want to combine them together, and whether land application is feasible will be determined by the study.”

Crump said if Middlesex County wants to “get on board” with HRSD, the county needs to submit a letter asking for HRSD’s assistance.

The state has indicated that water re-use is an alternative, and has updated its regulations in the last two years, said Pyne.

Pyne said an oil refinery near HRSD’s York River Plant re-uses 500,000 gallons per day. The York Plant has a flow of 15 million gallons per day.

HRSD also just got funding for water re-use for the Jefferson National Laboratory in Newport News, noted Pyne.

He said there is an industry slogan, “Make sure wastewater is not wasted.”

Smith said she has visited a land application treatment plant in Westmoreland County near Coles Point, and hopes to take other officials to see it.

A private treatment plant in Remlik, about 3 miles west of Urbanna, has been using land application for about 20 years, and has a permit to treat 36,000 gallons per day.

Del. Morgan said one thing that came out of the April 14 sewage summit was that, according to the DEQ, there is no urgency to have a plant built by December 2011, when new state deadlines are imposed. “They don’t have to rush it.”

posted 04.22.2009

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