As of April 2016, the Hampton Roads Sanitation District (HRSD), headquartered in Virginia Beach, Va., was developing and seeking support for a plan to add advanced wastewater treatment at several facilities and thereby produce high-quality water (exceeding drinking-water standards) that would then be used to replenish local groundwater.
As of April 2016, HRSD serves about 1.7 million people in 17 southeastern Virginia cities and counties, managing 13 treatment plants with a combined capacity of 249 million gallons per day.
According to the District’s Web site for the initiative—“Sustainable Water Recycling Initiative” Web site, online at http://www.hrsd.com/SWR.shtml, as of 4/26/16–the potential benefits include the following: eliminating HRSD discharge to the James, York and Elizabeth rivers except during significant storms; restoring groundwater supplies in eastern Virginia; significantly reducing discharge of nutrients, suspended solids, and other pollutants to the Chesapeake Bay; making available significant allocations of nitrogen and phosphorous to support regional needs (under the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load, or TMDL, pollution-reduction plan); protecting groundwater from saltwater contamination/intrusion; reducing the rate of land subsidence, thereby slowing the rate of sea level rise; and extending the life of protective wetlands and developed lowlands.
According to a Virginia Gazette account of HRSD’s presentation to the James City County Board of Supervisors on March 22, 2016, the plan’s “eventual goal will be to pump 120 million gallons per day into the aquifer by 2030. It would take six or seven plants to conduct the operation, and the project would cost an estimated $1 billion, with $20 million to $30 million in annual operating costs.” HRSD would need permits from the U.S. EPA, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, and the Virginia Department of Health.
For more information on this initiative, please see the HRSD Web site listed above.
Additional sources: HRSD pitches plan to replenish groundwater aquifer, Virginia Gazette, 3/25/16; HRSD, “Fast Facts,” online at http://www.hrsd.com/fastfacts.shtml, accessed 4/26/16.
Later news media items on this topic (oldest listed first):
Bryan Plumlee: A solution to many of our woes, Virginian-Pilot, 5/22/16. [This is a guest column with opinion, but it has good background information.]