Water in the 2017 Virginia General Assembly: Combined Sewer Overflow Bills in Potomac River Watershed and Alexandria

This is one of a series of posts on particular water-related bills in the 2017 Virginia General Assembly.  For an inventory of about 165 water-related bills in the 2017 General Assembly, please visit the Virginia Water Resources Research Center’s “Virginia Water Legislation” page, online at http://www.vwrrc.vt.edu/virginia-water-legislation/.  Each post includes a summary of the bill(s), their legislative status (in committee, passed, failed, etc.), and a list of hyperlinked headlines for news media items on the bill(s).  Information on the bills’ provisions and status is taken from the Virginia Legislative Information System (LIS), online at http://leg1.state.va.us/lis.htm.  Each bill number is hyperlinked to the LIS entry for that bill.

Several bills concerned the problem of combined sewer overflows from the City of Alexandria into the Potomac River watershed.

HB 2383Chesapeake Bay watershed combined sewer overflow outfalls: DEQ to identify owner, etc.  This bill, sponsored by Del. Scott Lingamfelter (R-31st District) of Woodbridge, passed the House and Senate.  Like HB 1423 above, this bill also directs the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to identify the owner of any combined sewer overflow (CSO) outfall that discharges into the Potomac River Watershed and to determine by July 2018 what actions by the owner are necessary to bring the outfall into compliance with Virginia law, the federal Clean Water Act, and the Presumption Approach described in the CSO Control Policy of the U.S. EPA.  This bill would only apply to any CSO outfall owner or operator not under a state order or decree related to the CSO as of January 1, 2017.  The bill requires the CSO outfall owner by July 2023 to initiate construction activities to bring the outfall into compliance, and by July 2025 to be in compliance.  On March 24, Gov. Terry McAuliffe proposed an amendment to the bill that would extend the deadline for beginning construction to 2024 and for being in compliance to 2027, and would give the DEQ authority to grant six-month extensions of the deadline (but no later than 2030) if the CSO owner is “in compliance with its permit requirements; unable to meet the deadline due to site conditions or engineering, construction, or federal permitting delays beyond the owner’s control; and is in compliance with the annual reporting requirement….”  The amendment will be taken up in the reconvened session on April 5, 2017.

SB 898Potomac River watershed combined sewer overflow outfalls: DEQ to identify owner, etc.  This bill, sponsored by Sen. Richard Stuart (R-28th District), of Montross, passed the Senate and House.  As passed, the bill is identical to HB  2383 (see above).

SB 818Potomac River watershed combined sewer overflow outfalls: DEQ to identify owner, etc.  This bill, sponsored by Del. Scott Surovell (D-36th District), of Mount Vernon, was incorporated into SB 898 (see above).

HB 1423Potomac River watershed combined sewer overflow outfalls: DEQ to identify owner, etc.  This bill, sponsored by Del. David Albo (R-42nd District), of Springfield, failed in the House Agriculture, Chesapeake, and Natural Resources (ACNR) Committee.  The bill would have directed the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to identify the owner of any combined sewer overflow (CSO) outfall that discharges into the Potomac River Watershed and to determine by July 2018 what actions by the owner are necessary to bring the outfall into compliance by with Virginia law, the federal Clean Water Act, and the Presumption Approach described in the CSO [Combined Sewer Overflow] Control Policy of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  The CSO owner would have had until July 2027 to bring the CSO outfall into compliance.

SB 819City of Alexandria Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) system permit: requirement to assess overflows by 2029.  This bill, sponsored by Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-30th District), of Alexandria, failed in the Senate ACNR Committee.  The bill would have directed the State Water Control Board to include in the next renewal of the Virginia Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit for the CSO system of the City of Alexandria requirement that the City complete by January 1, 2029, an assessment of the discharges from CSO Number 001 into the Potomac River, including identifying any improvements meant to address discharges from any part of the City’s CSO system and determining what control technologies would be required to meet applicable regulations.

Related News Media Items on This Legislation
Governor proposes giving Alexandria more time to fix sewage overflows, Bay Journal, 3/29/17.
McAuliffe To Request Amendments To Legislation Regarding Combined Sewer Outfalls, Alexandria News, 3/27/17.
Environmental group says Alexandria can replace sewer by 2024; city disagrees, Washington Post, 3/16/17.
“Mean spirited” Alexandria sewer bill sparks partisan fight, Associated Press, as published by WTOP Radio-Washington, 3/11/17.
Alexandria officials seethe over state sewer bill, Alexandria Times, 3/2/17.
Alexandria officials to seek McAuliffe intervention over deadline on fixing sewers, Washington Post, 2/28/17.
Senate Proposes Alexandria Sewer Overflow Deadline, Comment by Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-30th District), as published by Alexandria Connection, 2/1/17.
Senators to Alexandria: Clean Up Your Act by 2020 or Lose State Funding, Alexandria Connection, 1/20/17.
Alexandria mayor balks at state Senate deadline for stopping sewage overflows, Washington Post, 1/19/17.
Alexandria speeds up plans to address sewage overflow into the Potomac, Washington Post, 11/10/16.

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