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Company faces sanctions in wastewater treatment plant violations

Aqua Virginia Inc. is facing a state enforcement action and a fine for violations at its Lake Land’Or wastewater treatment plant in Caroline County.

That’s according to a consent order proposed by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. A consent order is a negotiated settlement between the state agency and a responsible party.

According to the April order, which will be taken up by the State Water Control Board, Aqua Virginia had several problems with the Lake Land’Or plant in Ruther Glen between April 2013 and February 2014.

The company’s discharge monitoring reports showed that it had exceeded permit limitations for releases of E. coli, nitrogen and phosphorus into an unnamed tributary of the South River.

The DEQ issued notices of violation for the discharges, and last fall the company and the agency met to discuss them.

Aqua Virginia told regulators that most of the violations “were due to multiple months of increased foam, and the plant being overloaded with solids because of operator error, and the loss of aeration units . . ..” Those led to problems removing nitrogen from the effluent, and the failure of an ultraviolet light system that kills bacteria.

Excessive nitrogen and phosphorus in sewage treatment plant discharges can cause water-quality issues in receiving streams, rivers and the Chesapeake Bay. Those nutrients feed summer algae blooms that rob oxygen in the water needed by marine life.

Aqua, according to the order, hired a new operator, repaired an aeration system and the ultraviolet disinfection component.

The company said another issue last summer complicated the effort to get the plant back into compliance.

It told regulators that the plant received a “toxic shock” last August. Residents of the subdivision reported seeing a septic tank sludge hauler emptying his truck into the sewer system. Aqua Virginia said it stepped up security as a result.

The company now says the problems have been corrected.

Aqua Virginia has 30 days after approval of the order to pay an $8,295 fine.

A copy of the proposed order is available online at deq.virginia.gov. The agency is accepting public comments through June 19. Contact Daniel Burstein by email at: Daniel.Burstein@deq.virginia.gov, or by mail to DEQ’s Northern Regional Office, 13901 Crown Court, Woodbridge, VA 22193.

Rusty Dennen: 540/374-5431

rdennen@freelancestar.com

 

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