Home Energy and Environment Alexandria Raw Sewage Issue Spews Forth Yet Again

Alexandria Raw Sewage Issue Spews Forth Yet Again

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This past September, I posted on a raw topic (pun intended), as “State Senator, Former Delegate, Alexandria City Council Members Wage Twitter Battle Over Raw Sewage.” At this point, you might have thought you could flush that topic down the drain (pun intended again; ok, maybe I should stop, LOL) for good. Instead, it’s baaaaaaaack, with the passage yesterday of Del. Scott Lingamfelter (R)’s HB 2383:

Directs DEQ to identify the owner of any combined sewer overflow outfall that discharges into the Chesapeake Bay Watershed and to determine what actions by the owner are necessary to bring the outfall into compliance with Virginia law, the federal Clean Water Act, and the Presumption Approach described in the CSO Control Policy of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The bill requires any owner of such an outfall to bring it into compliance with the EPA policy by July 1, 2024, and, until compliance is achieved, to annually report its progress to DEQ. The bill requires DEQ to provide all such reports to certain legislative committees, the Virginia delegation to the Chesapeake Bay Commission, the Secretary of Natural Resources, and the Governor. The bill does not apply to any outfall for which a higher level of control is necessary to comply with a TMDL.

The first strange thing here is that this apparently pro-environment bill was sponsored by a right-wing Republican, not normally known as the most environmentally conscious folks out there. The second strange thing is the final votes in the House and Senate on this bill: the vast majority of House Democrats voting “nay” (except for Delegates Paul Krizek and Marcus Simon, who voted “yea”; see the video below of Simon talking about this) and most Republicans voting “yea”; only seven “nays” in the Senate, all Democrats (George Barker, John Edwards, Barbara Favola, Janet Howell, Dave Marsden, Dick Saslaw, Lionell Spruill).

Then, to make matters even more interesting, a heated argument broke out between delegates, Potomac Riverkeeper Dean Naujoks, and others on the Facebook page of former Del. Rob Krupicka. First, here’s what Krupicka had to say, including heatedly calling out a couple of his Democratic former colleagues (Senators Scott Surovell and Jennifer McClellan) by name. Check it out below (bolding added by me for emphasis).

General Assembly moving forward with bill to force Alexandria to spend $500-700 million and impact homeowner taxes by $400 per year to tear up old town to fix sewers (needs to be done). Say goodbye to new schools, roadwork, etc. Oh yeah, the city just has two years to tear up roads and fix everything which every engineer involved says is completely impossible. Sad thing is nobody argues with need to do this work, just want a reasonable time to do it. But lawyer legislators know so much damn more than engineers and all want to show how tough they are. This is good government in action. Also this is Rs and Ds jealous of ALEXANDRIA feeling they should beat up ALEXANDRIA more than Richmond or Lynchburg which have similar issues. You can thank Scott A. Surovell for helping pass this stupid legislation instead of something that would actually work. Another example of why lawyers mess up policy because they don’t care about how stuff actually works. Let’s hope governor gives more reasonable time. Adam P Ebbin, Charniele Herring, Mark Levine how are you fixing this?

Wow, you don’t see something like this every day. But wait, it gets more interesting, as others way in:

Ben Tribbett asks Krupicka why he says “goodbye to new schools, roadwork, etc.” Krupicka responds, “Cause this is a shit ton of money and will crowd out bond capacity for other things,” also that “Treating ALEXANDRIA different than other places with same issue is BS. And not working on a reasonable time line is BS.”

Krupicka proceeds to calls out Sen. Jennifer McClellan (D): “thanks for voting for this stupid legislation and thinking Alexandria needs different treatment than Richmond on same issue. I would have hoped you had some common sense on this given where Richmond is (with state money to help them fix their sewers). I always thought you cared about making sure legislation was actually practical and doable. Instead you just jumped for a LCV score.

Del. Mark Levine (who voted yes on HB 2383 responds to Krupicka by saying he is “right to be angry about” this, adding: “We managed in the House to come up with a reasonable compromise — to have Alexandria start by 2024 — which Charniele and I both signed on to. Then the conference report comes and pow, they hit Alexandria out of nowhere… in 2018, you can bet that I, along with the rest of the Alexandria delegation, will be insisting the General Assembly chip in to pay for the costs, just as they did for Richmond and Lynchburg.”

Finally, “Potomac Riverkeeper” Dean Naujoks – who obviously wants this problem fixed yesterday – weighs in (bolding added by me for emphasis). Former Del. Krupicka then responds that Naujoks is “so wrong,” that “Jumping up and down and not actually focusing on solving the issue constructively is third grade politics,” and that it “sounds like Levine is more interested in solving the issue than grandstanding as you are.” Enjoy!

Shame on you Rob. You could have addressed this issue but you failed to do so. Shame on Delegate Mark Levine for voting against the Alexandria CSO Bill which passed the VA House and Senate! The bill requires Alexandria to upgrade its failing combined stormwater and sewage system (CSS) by eliminating their combined sewage and stormwater overflow (CSO’s) discharges (70 million gallons a year) from Outfall 001 to the Potomac River by 2025. That is the good news!

The BAD NEWS is Alexandria Delegate Mark Levine tried to weaken the bill to give Alexandria an unlimited time frame to complete construction/upgrades. You turned more than 30 House Democrats against the bill who voted against it.

It is clear the public who cares about the Potomac River would never support an unlimited time frame and want Alexandria’s sewage dumping stopped as soon as possible. Delegate Paul Krizek (Senator Scott Surovell) should be thanked for their leadership and standing strong for the Potomac River by voting against fellow Democrats. The bill actually passed in the Senate 32-7-1 with great support, Senator Saslaw and Barker (D) from Alexandria voting against it.

Unfortunately, 35 House Democrats, many who represent Potomac River communities, flat-out voted against eliminating raw sewage discharges to the Potomac River! This is truly unbelievable! House Republicans actually called out Democrats for voting against stopping sewage dumping into the Potomac River. You are going to hear from your constituents on this one!!

70 million gallons of raw sewage discharges to the Potomac River is unacceptable! Alexandria’s sewage from Outfall 001 must be eliminated by no later than 2025! The public deserves a public hearing on this Long Term Control Plan!

You should support a sewage free Potomac River! Alexandria has known about their sewage problem for decades. They have repeatedly delayed action and funding to stop sewage discharges to the Potomac River. Alexandria’s proposed Long Term Control Plan (LTCP) is still before Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and has not even been approved nor does it allow for public comment. The public should have a say in this matter! The city still has no plan to eliminate raw sewage discharges from Outfall 001 for at least 20 years or more, which is why this bill is so important. Numerous cities around the country with failing CSO’s have made CSO upgrades and developed LTCPs long ago. Alexandria is well behind almost every city in the US and must fix their failing sewage collection system.

Shame on Delegate Levine who lives on the Potomac River for voting against eliminating sewage discharges to the Potomac on the 45th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act! The photo on his house Delegate page is a view from the Potomac River of the Alexandria waterfront! The Potomac River is the Nation’s River and a drinking water supply for more than 5 million people! You are going to hear about this for sure!

Rob if you think I am wrong I challenge you and Mark Levine to a public debate on this issue! You suggest reasonable time frame when you and the city ignored this problem for decades! The city started working on their Long Term Control Plan back in 1999. How much more time you need? You support kids from TC Williams High School Crew Team swimming in raw sewage for 10 more years atleast….they city plan.right now has no time frame! Debate….man up!

…The bottom line Mark, Alexandria is breaking the law by dumping 70 million gallons per year of sewage laden storm water into the Potomac River from Outfall 001 (140 million per year from all 4 outfalls). Alexandria’s own data shows they are violating water quality standards 51% of the time, meaning it’s not safe for human contact more than half the time!

So just remember on the 45th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act you voted against stopping Alexandria from breaking the law and threatening public health! As Potomac Riverkeeper we will hold Alexandria and you accountable for protecting the Nations River–the life blood of this region! All our data and information is on www.potomacriverkeepernetwork.org ….we got all of it from the Alexandria’s own data. I bet the city has not told you their long term control plan is being held up by DEQ and EPA because of misleading and inaccurate information they have provided.

If you want to debate publicly why Alexandria should get a pass to continue to dump raw sewage in the river for 8 + years, that is your call! i appreciate you calling out Dominion! Thank you but as Potomac Riverkeeper and as a citizen who uses the river where my daughter swims down river at Bellehaven Marina…I will debate you publicly any time, any where!

You sir are on the wrong side of losing argument! Only Alexandria supports an extension to break the law and dump hundrends of millions of gallons of sewage laden stormwater into the Potomac River!!

My personal view is that this problem is completely unacceptable and needs to be fixed as soon as possible, although obviously (or at least it should be obvious) within reason taking cost, engineering, disruption, economic impact and other considerations into account. Let me emphasize that the clause beginning with “although obviously” should not and must not be used as an excuse to kick this can down the road indefinitely. If funding is truly an issue, then figure it out guys – that’s what we pay you the big bucks (ok, maybe not) to do. But stop bickering on Facebook, etc. and just get it done. The Potomac River will thank you, as will everyone living downstream from Alexandria’s antiquated sewer/runoff system.