News Briefs: City in Dispute Over Time Frame for Addressing Overflow Issues

In this week’s news briefs, Alexandria, Virginia, claims it needs time beyond the 2025 deadline given by the state to fix a combined sewer that overflows into the Potomac River, and a $100 million federal grant has been approved to aid Flint, Michigan.
News Briefs: City in Dispute Over Time Frame for Addressing Overflow Issues

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The city of Alexandria, Virginia, and an environmental group are at odds over the timetable for replacement of the city’s largest combined sewer, which periodically overflows into the Potomac River.

According to a report in the Washington Post, an engineering firm hired by the environmental group concluded that the city should be able to replace the sewer by 2024. The city claims it needs more time than that, and the firm didn’t consider all the issues.

“The city is very committed to addressing our (combined sewer) problem, but we just need to do so in a reasonable time frame. Other communities have taken 15 to 20 years. We’re saying give us nine to 12 years,” says Yon Lambert, Alexandria’s director of transportation and environmental services.

Lambert cites the fact that the city is dealing with multiple sites that will require planning, study, and disruptive construction as the reason for a proposed 2029 deadline. In February, the state General Assembly ordered the city to finish all construction by July 1, 2025. That includes a total of four discharge points. Last year, the city approved a $188 million plan that would capture runoff from three of those discharge pipes and store it in large underground holding tunnels before sending it to the treatment plant. But there isn’t yet a plan for the largest outfall, which produces about 70 million gallons of overflow annually into the river.

The governor has the ability to amend the order this week, and if he does, it would be up to legislators to react when they reconvene in session in April.

Source: Washington Post

EPA Announces $100 Million Grant for Flint, Michigan
Federal assistance has been officially approved to aid Flint, Michigan, in making its water infrastructure upgrades.

Last week, the EPA announced a $100 million grant award to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to fund the work in Flint. The funding comes from the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act of 2016.

“I appreciate the EPA approving this funding to assist with Flint’s recovering,” Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder said in a press release. “Combined with the nearly $250 million in state funding already allocated, this will help keep Flint on a solid path forward. It’s great to see federal, state and local partners continuing to work together to help with infrastructure upgrades and pipe replacements for the people of Flint.”

Said Flint Mayor Karen Weaver about the grant, “As we prepare to start the next phase of the FAST Start pipe replacement program, these funds will give us what we need to reach our goal of replacing 6,000 pipes this year and make other needed infrastructure improvements.”

Source: press release

Small Arizona Town Recognized for Proactive Effort
The town of Springerville, Arizona, was recently recognized by the Arizona Water Infrastructure Authority with the group’s Clean Water Project of the Year award.

The award stems from a four-year, $1.8 million effort to thoroughly clean and upgrade the town’s water and sewer systems. In those four years the projects in the town of 2,000 people included: rehabbing two water tanks, drilling a new well and bringing it into production, cleaning the entirety of the 117,000-foot water distribution system, inspecting and cleaning the entire sewer system, and installing a SCADA monitoring system to allow remote equipment operation at well, lift station, and pump locations.

“We don’t have to go out in the morning and evening to check everything because it’s all on our phones. The sewer call-outs went down 85 to 90 percent. It used to be almost every day, especially on weekends,” Public Works Director Tim Rasmussen told the White Mountain Independent. “And the water issues, people thinking they have contaminated water, those calls have also drastically reduced. I think one of the reasons we were awarded is we got a lot done in four years. I was told we’d never get this done in four years, but we did.”

Funding the project were two loans from the Water Infrastructure Finance Authority of Arizona (WIFA): one a $1.3 million low-interest loan, the other a $500,000 forgivable loan.

“Without WIFA, I don’t feel the town would have been able to afford the projects,” Town Manager Steve West told the White Mountain Independent.

Source: White Mountain Independent

Contractor Hired to Fix Fraser, Michigan, Sinkhole
The massive sinkhole that opened up in Fraser, Michigan, on Christmas Eve due to a collapsed sewer interceptor is scheduled to be fixed by the end of September.

According to a report by the Detroit Free Press, officials recently awarded a $32.7 million contract to Dan’s Excavating. The emergency contractor that had headed up the temporary repairs and installation of a bypass is moving off the project. In total, including both permanent and temporary repairs, the project is estimated to cost about $75 million.

That could balloon to as much as $150 million depending on what work, such as relining, is required on the rest of the interceptor beyond the sinkhole location. About 17 miles of pipe will be inspected this summer.

Source: Detroit Free Press


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