The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Plant faces fine for violations
By RUSTY DENNEN
The King George County Service Authority faces a state fine for exceeding discharge limits and other violations at a county sewage-treatment plant.
The proposed $5,320 fine is part of a consent order prepared by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. A consent order is a negotiated settlement between the agency and a responsible party.
The State Water Control Board will make a final decision.
The Dahlgren District Wastewater Treatment Plant on Dahlgren Road discharges treated sewage into Williams Creek, which flows into the Potomac River. Williams Creek is on the state’s list of impaired waters; levels of enterococcal bacteria make it unsafe for recreational swimming.
Though not harmful themselves, enterococci indicate the presence of potentially harmful bacteria that can cause waterborne disease.
According to the order, signed by authority general manager Christopher Thomas, the plant exceeded the average monthly limit for enterococci concentration in December 2010 and January 2011, nitrogen limits for the 2010 and 2011 calendar years, and phosphorus for 2010.
Nitrogen and phosphorus are nutrients that contribute to vast “dead zones” in the Chesapeake Bay during the summer. The nutrients feed algae blooms that rob oxygen from the water when they die.
The DEQ issued warning letters and notices of violation citing the plant for exceeding the limits, and for not filing a quarterly monitoring report on time.
In March of last year the service authority responded, saying enterococci spike was the result of a filtering problem at the plant, and that cold temperatures, along with process and design deficiencies, contributed to other problems in late 2010 and early 2011.
The plant submitted a revised discharge monitoring report, which DEQ rejected based on the agency’s interpretation of required analytical methods.
The order requires the Service Authority to submit a plan to meet phosphorus and nitrogen limits, and to follow equipment improvement measures recommended in a consultant’s engineering report.
Last year, the King George authority was fined $12,500 for violations at its Oakland Park and Purkins Corner wastewater treatment plants. Those were cited for discharging larger amounts of treated sewage and nitrogen, copper and phosphorous than the state allows.
Rusty Dennen: 540/374-5431