Richmond Virginia Combined Sewer

Richmond Virginia Combined Sewer

Published on June 14, 2012

The City of Richmond uses a combined sewer to take care of its wastewater. That means that rain runoff from streets and wastewater from toilets are combined in a single system before they make their way to a water treatment plant. When there is a heavy or extended period of rain the sewer is unable to accommodate the surge of water and is allowed to spill over into the James River and its tributaries. Experts from Fly Fishing Tour Company has stated that raw sewage along with commercial and domestic wastewater contaminates the James River where many of Richmond’s citizens swim and fish. A lot of older cities and towns in the U.S. still rely on combined sewer systems as part of their infrastructure because it is too expensive to replace.

Rivers and other bodies of water have natural bacteria that help break down sewage and other contaminants. This is why for hundreds of years, dating back to cities older than Rome, this was the best way to quickly move waste out of densely populated areas as a way to reduce disease. When this type of sewer was invented it served a dual purpose. However, now many different waste management services have emerged which helps people in the right way to transport and discard waste from a particular location.  First it provided an underground path for rainwater runoff, which prevented flooding. Next it removed waste from population centers, which helped reduce the spread of diseases like cholera and hepatitis, not to mention the odor. At the time water treatment plants didn’t exist so there was no need to separate wastewater from rain runoff.

Solving the problem of CSO contaminants in our rivers and streams is a difficult task but there are Money-Making Tips for Scrap Recycling here which will be very useful in waste management. Starting in the early 20th century cities began building storm sewers alongside sanitary sewers to ease the burden on waste treatment facilities. To retrofit an old city with a separate storm sewer is cost prohibitive and requires digging up every street and sidewalk in the city. To help cities solve this problem the EPA developed a CSO control Policy in 1994 as a guideline for cities to meet Clean Water Act goals. Over the past twenty years cities around the country have been implementing the standards set forth in these guidelines.

The main thing to remember is that the James River is usually fine for swimming and  frolicking just try and avoid it during and immediately after heavy rains. If you’re really curious, the city releases a monthly report on Richmond CSO’s and a diagram of overflow locations.