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Saluda sewage plant is top priority

On Oct. 26 SWCB agenda

by Tom Chillemi

A sewer system for Saluda remains the top priority on the Middlesex County Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), which is undergoing its annual update and will be the subject of a public hearing tonight, October 8, at 7 p.m. in the historic courthouse.

On Tuesday, the Middlesex Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 to leave the sewage treatment plant permit application on the State Water Control Board (SWCB) agenda for its October 26 meeting.

Board chairman Robert Crump was the sole vote against moving forward with the permit application. Voting in favor were Wayne Jessie, Fred Crittenden, Jack Miller and Kenneth W. Williams.
As proposed, the 39,900-gallon-per-day treatment plant would discharge into Urbanna Creek.

Middlesex County Administrator Charles Culley noted that even when the permit is granted, the county can wait to build the Saluda treatment plant, and can apply to modify the permit.

The county is considering building a treatment plant that would not discharge into any body of water. Instead, the treated wastewater would be applied to land.

Nutrients, which are bad for the Bay, are hard to remove from wastewater. However, with a land application system, the plants would take up the remaining nutrients as fertilizer.

The Hampton Roads Sanitation District (HRSD) is studying the feasibility and costs of a “land application” treatment plant in Middlesex. Currently, HRSD is looking for enough land on which to spray the treated wastewater, said Jim Pyne, chief of the Small Communities Division of HRSD.

HRSD and Middlesex are working on an agreement so HRSD could build and operate the Saluda treatment plant, said Pyne. If HRSD builds and operates the plant, the construction costs would be spread over HRSD’s entire customer base, which includes all of Hampton Roads.

The county would pay for the collection pipes, said Culley.

Culley added the county is waiting for HRSD’s land application proposal to see if it is cheaper than discharging into Urbanna Creek. Since nutrients do not have to be removed from wastewater that is applied to land, there could be a cost savings, especially as state and federal regulations become more strict for discharging into bodies of water.

A land application system in Middlesex would be the first for HRSD, which has been treating sewage for more than 60 years.

Among plans also being considered is building a central plant that is large enough to serve Saluda, Urbanna, and the Middle Peninsula Regional Security Center, said Culley.

However, the county must get a permit from the SWCB.

Another alternative to treatment is to continue pumping and hauling the sewage from the courthouse and county offices, as the county has done for several years at a cost of about $25,000 per year.

Although the county can pump and haul indefinitely, the Middlesex CIP for fiscal years 2010 through 2014 still lists the Saluda treatment system as the top priority. The CIP, which is undergoing its annual update, estimates the plant’s cost at $4.45 million, factoring in inflation at 3% and with a 15% contingency.

The CIP calls for the county appropriating $1.08 million in 2011, $2.22 million in 2012, and $1.14 million in 2013.

The Middlesex Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on the proposed CIP tonight, October 8, at 7 p.m. in the historic courthouse at Saluda. Call 758-3382 for more information.

posted 10.08.2009

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