What's The Rush?

Wednesday, March 11, 2020
Va. passes bill to stop James River sewage dumps by 2035
A bill passed by Virginia lawmakers will put a stop to the sewage overflows Richmond sends into the James River–but it’s going to take some time.

Under legislation awaiting Governor Ralph Northam’s signature, the state’s capital has 15 years to complete upgrades that would eliminate raw sewage discharges into the James.

Richmond has a combined sewage system (like hundreds of U.S. cities) that discharges untreated sewage into the river after heavy rainfalls, when sanitary flow overwhelms the Combined Sewer Overflow system (CSO). The city of Richmond has Virginia’s largest CSO system, serviced by about 12,000 acres.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, CSOs “are a major water pollution concern,” containing not just stormwater but also “untreated human and industrial waste, toxic materials, and debris.”

The legislation introduced by state Senator Richard Stuart sets a 2035 deadline for the city to do away with these discharges. Under the bill, Richmond would report annually on progress and funding for the work.

One of the bill’s co-patrons, Senator Siobhan Dunnavant, says the deadline will hold leaders accountable for their commitment to stopping the sewage.

“[The city of Richmond] must work with the state to find creative ways to find what might be an expensive solution. We need the decision makers at the table committed to solving the problem in a reasonable time frame because they all agree that the problem is important enough to make it a priority,” says Sen. Dunnavant.
Seriously, they pretend that taking 15 more years to stop sewage from running into the James River (and then into Chesapeake Bay) is an accomplishment worth trumpeting. If it were private industries or individuals, they would have demanded action yesterday.
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