Water, Earth, Sky

Scott Shenk writes about the environment.

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More than 1,000 gallons of sewage spilled into Rappahannock

Update from Fredericksburg’s Department of Public Works:

Here’s the latest release: “The results of the November 29 sampling of the river have been received and reviewed. These

results support the conclusion that the river impact of the wastewater overflow has passed.

This conclusion is based on sampling at five locations in the river – at a “control point” in

the river near the intersection of Normandy Avenue and Fall Hill Avenue, approximately 1.2

miles upstream of the location of the overflow and above the fall line and at four locations

between Old Mill Park (the overflow was near the downstream boundary of the park) and the

City Dock. The sampling results were very similar at each of the five locations. Based on the

sampling results, the warning signs have been removed from the City Dock area and the City

no longer advises avoiding contact with the river.”

More than 1,000 gallons of raw sewage spilled into the Rappahannock River due to a pump station malfunction in Fredericksburg last week. That’s according to Ed Stuart, regional compliance manager with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.  The city reported that a “significant” amount of sewage spilled, but this is the first hard number regarding the scope of the spill.

Stuart said it’s hard to know how much more, beyond 1,000 gallons, spilled because there are no meters on the pumps. After a main pump and backup shut off last Tuesday night, sewage began collecting in a “wet well” designed to catch overflow in the event of a failure.  When that filled,  it began flowing into the river. Stuart said the agency has requested information on the faulty pumps, and whether there are potential problems at any of the city’s remaining seven pump stations.

He says possible sanctions include assessing points in the agency’s compliance auditing system for local plants, a warning letter or a notice of violation. Serious violations are referred for enforcement; that is not under consideration in this case, Stuart said.

Meanwhile, the city has posted signs at the City Dock warning people to avoid contact with the water. The results of the latest batch of water tests should be available later today.