The City of Alexandria and Alexandria Renew Enterprises (AlexRenew) have announced that the Commonwealth of Virginia plans to provide $25 million toward the “RiverRenew” community megaproject to remediate Alexandria’s combined sewer system. The General Assembly adopted the allocation as part of the state budget amendments for Fiscal Year 2020, which will be sent to the Governor for signature next month. The Governor had already included the funding in his budget proposal.
“We are grateful to all our state leaders for supporting Alexandria’s aggressive efforts to improve the quality of local waterways,” said Mayor Justin Wilson. “We thank Gov. Northam for including this key funding in his budget proposal. This funding would also not have been possible without outstanding advocacy from Sen. Richard Saslaw, Sen. George Barker, Sen. Adam Ebbin, Del. Mark Sickles, Del. Charniele Herring, and Del. Mark Levine, and support from Senate Finance Committee Co-Chairs Sen. Thomas Norment and Sen. Emmett Hanger and House Appropriations Committee Chairman Del. Chris Jones. We appreciate the recognition by the Governor and General Assembly that the Commonwealth should do its part to help upgrade Alexandria’s combined sewers, just as it has in other Virginia communities with the same type of infrastructure.”
The budget appropriation will authorize $25 million for the Virginia Resources Authority and the State Water Control Board to make a grant to the City to pay a portion of the capital costs of the remediation effort. During 2018, the City transferred ownership of Alexandria’s four combined sewer outfalls to AlexRenew, Alexandria’s independent wastewater authority. The City will continue to work closely with AlexRenew to incorporate state funding in compliance with the 2017 state law requiring that work on the outfalls be completed by July 1, 2025. The project is expected to cost between $370 million and $555 million, and will be primarily funded through increased sewer fees paid by Alexandria residents and businesses.
“RiverRenew is a substantial financial investment in healthier waterways for Alexandria,” said John Hill, chairman of the AlexRenew board of directors. “We appreciate that the Commonwealth partners with localities on large infrastructure programs such as RiverRenew, and we are grateful to our state leaders for their support of this program to improve the City’s legacy sewer system. State support will help offset the financial impact this project will have on our customers.”
The remediation plan calls for construction of a tunnel and other improvements that would transport sewage and stormwater flows from all four combined sewer outfalls to AlexRenew’s Water Resources Recovery Facility. Combined sewer flows would be fully treated at the Facility until it reaches capacity, at which point the excess flow would receive initial treatment and disinfection and the remaining flows would be stored until they can be treated. Combined sewer overflows into local waterways would be significantly reduced and only occur a few times a year during extreme storm events when flows exceed the combined capacity of the entire system.
While 95 percent of Alexandria is served by separate sewer systems for stormwater and sewage, the remaining 5 percent is served by a combined sewer system. When too much rain flows into the combined collection system, it overflows into local waterways at four permitted outfalls. Alexandria has one of the earliest combined sewer systems in the country, dating back to the early 1800s. More than 800 cities nationwide have similar systems, including neighboring outfalls that overflow into the Potomac River. Remediation projects require the planning, design, and construction of massive infrastructure projects to significantly reduce sewer overflows.
For more information, visit www.riverrenew.com.