|Alexandria from the Potomac River|
If the plans come to fruition, Alexandria will join dozens of other cities that have curbed polluted overflows with costly projects to increase capacity at wastewater treatment facilities.Six years doesn't strike me a overly rapid. The Empire State Building was built in 1 year and 45 days.
Like the District of Columbia and the Virginia cities of Richmond and Lynchburg — where projects are all well under way — Alexandria plans to build concrete tunnels deep underground to divert tainted water from the overflow points away from the river and toward the treatment facility.
Alexandria’s RiverRenew project entails building more than two miles of tunnels, two pumping stations and increasing treatment capacity at the plant, costing an estimated $370 million to $555 million. Across the Potomac River, DC Water’s Clean Rivers Project includes 18 miles of tunnels and an estimated cost of $2.7 billion.
But, if Alexandria is able to complete its project by the 2025 deadline, it may be one of the fastest timeframes in which a city has addressed its overflow problems.
The project could increase residents’ utility bills by $20 to $40 a month in the coming years, but the exact amount depends on whether the city gets grants from the state to defray the cost.That's a big hike on utility bills. And if the state covers it, it will just spread it out onto rural taxpayers who deal with their own sewage problems. And I don't even want to know if they're going to find federal money.
Richmond and Lynchburg each have received millions of dollars from the state for their combined sewer outflow reduction projects. Alexandria officials plan to ask the General Assembly for $25 million this year and for more in future years to equal about 20 percent of the project’s cost, according to AlexRenew staff.