Alexandria is dumping raw sewage into our waterways - and has been for more than 40 years. The city is not only putting public health at risk, it is also breaking state and federal law.
This uncontrolled toxic dumping is not only a health hazaard to residents and visitors, but also multiple downstream communities, and undermines the rights of Virginians to drinkable, swimmable and fishable water.
The city’s own test results show that parts of the Potomac River in vicinity of discharges are frequently unsafe for swimming and human powered boating due to dangerous levels of E. coli bacterial contamination far exceeding Virginia’s legal limits.
This is happening because Alexandria is failing to manage its Combined Sewer Systems (CSS) - despite rules enacted 20 years ago by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requiring it to carry out infrastructure upgrades to minimize or eliminate raw sewage discharges.
Clean Water Action, working with partners and local communities, is advocating for legislation - SB818 (Surovell) - that will help eliminate the Commonwealth’s last major source of untreated sewage dumping into the Potomac River watershed. But we need your help in getting the legislation over the finish line. Tell your legislators to support this important legislation to put our health and water first.
SB818 will require the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VDEQ) to determine by 2018 the necessary steps to bring Alexandria into compliance with state and federal laws, and mandate that any owner of a CSS outfall from Virginia that discharges sewage into the Potomac River watershed comply with the Clean Water Act by July 1, 2027.
This 2027 timeframe is reasonable and comparable to similar plans in Richmond, Lynchburg, Washington DC, and Philadelphia. Failure to pass this important legislation means billions of gallons of additional untreated sewage will be dumped into the Potomac River over the next 30-40 years.
Benefits of SB818:
- Safeguards the health and protect the rights of residents and visitors to the city, as well as numerous downstream communities within a reasonable timeframe.
- Eliminates or vastly reduce the last major source of untreated sewage discharges from Virginia into the Potomac River watershed, leading to safer, cleaner waters for recreation and reduced nutrient pollution that affects the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay ecosystem.
- Allows the City of Alexandria to sustainably develop its waterfront without the blight of continual untreated sewage discharges from the city’s historic Old Town.
Tell your state officials to support legislation (SB818) that will make sure Alexandria’s long term plan to address sewage pollution will lead to real improvements in water quality and help restore the Potomac to a “fishable and swimmable” waterway as envisioned by the Clean Water Act.