The county Board of Supervisor were briefed by the Hampton Roads Sanitation District and the Department of Environmental Quality at its Tuesday work session about long term water supply options.
Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality approved a permit this month allowing the county to draw up to 16.95 million gallons a day from the Chickahominy River at the county’s Chickahominy Riverfront Park.
The permit will allow the county to pull water from the southeast bank of the Chickahominy River and on the northwest peninsula of Chickahominy Riverfront Park.
“We hope this a bridge to cover us during a transition period because we don’t know how the aquifers are going to react,” said Scott Kudlas, the director of the office of water supply at the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. “Our objective was to create that bridge to cover any unexpected needs that might come while the county searches for a long term option.”
Riverfront Park is close to an existing water pumping infrastructure, which would simplify building a water treatment plant and save money.
As part of the permit, the county will have to update the state department of environmental quality about its long term water supply intentions.
“There’s potential for flexibility here,” Kudlas said.
The county is also pursuing plans with HRSD and its Sustainable Water Initiative for Tomorrow program.
HRSD plans to take already highly treated wastewater that would otherwise be discharged into the Elizabeth, James or York rivers and purify it through additional rounds of advanced treatment to produce drinking-quality water, according to SWIFT’s website.
Ted Henifin, HRSD general manager, said the organization has constructed a treatment plant in Suffolk and will spend the next six months studying the water.
“We’re moving as quickly as we can,” Henifin said.
By 2019, Henifin said the organization will go through the permit process with the United States Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Environmental Quality and the Virginia Department of Health.
The HRSD hopes to have the county treatment plant fully operational by 2030.
The plant would provide eight to ten million gallons per day from three wells.
The water would be treated to match the existing groundwater standards and added to the aquifer, the primary source of groundwater throughout eastern Virginia.
Supervisor Ruth Larson was concerned how quick the water could be recaptured in the instance of something harmful being found in the water.
Henifin said since the water moves very slowly from treatment facilities that the water production could be stopped long before it reaches the public and treated properly.
Henifin said the water treatment will be monitored by an independent lab housed at Old Dominion University.
The HRSD expects the earliest approvals by state and federal regulators for SWIFT are late 2018 or early 2019. The project is also expected to cost $1 billion, which would be paid for regionally by HRSD rate payers.
County administrator Bryan Hill said he will bring back Henifin again next year to provide another update.
Jefferson can be reached by phone at 757-790-9313.