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Urbanna seeks review of sewage plant alternatives

by Tom Chillemi

A proposed wastewater treatment plant for Saluda stirred debate at Monday’s meeting of the Urbanna Town Council.

Council agreed by consensus to send a letter asking the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and Middlesex County what alternatives to discharging treated wastewater into Urbanna Creek have been considered.

Middlesex County has applied for a permit to build a 39,900-gallon-per-day wastewater treatment plant, which is expandable, to be located about a half-mile east of Saluda (see related story).

Council member Janet Smith started the lengthy discussion on the proposed Saluda sewage treatment plant, and said she was concerned about expansion, increased nutrients and its impact on water quality, among other things.

Smith said “land application” of the treated wastewater is a viable alternative to dumping into Urbanna Creek. “We want to make sure all alternatives have been exhausted,” she said.

Town resident and business- man Bill Hight told council the town “needs to be proactive on the creek.” Hight said he favored a central sewer solution. “We need to get the
county on one system and get that stuff out of here.”

Town resident Lee Walton, a Health Department employee, agreed that questions need to be asked, and he told council to “be willing to listen to the answers.”

Walton added, “We need to look in our own backyard.” He noted that storm drains send more nitrogen into the creek than a treatment plant.

He said individual septic and drain fields “are doing more damage than any treatment plant,” which overall would be better for Urbanna Creek.

Town residents currently are served by a wastewater treatment plant that discharges into Urbanna Creek.

Smith argued that nutrients cannot be taken out of the water, and the creek will never be allowed to recover.

Smith said there has not been long-term planning by Middlesex County in terms of central sewer or what areas are to be served.

Council members Don Richwine and Bill Thrift said building a pipeline is the best alternative. The town’s wastewater treatment plant needs $5 million in upgrades, said Thrift, while the county will spend $5 million on its treatment plant, if approved. Instead of spending $10 million on treatment plants, that money could be used to lay a pipeline toward Gloucester, noted Thrift.

posted 10.23.2008

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