LYNCHBURG, Va. – City leaders are working to fix a decade-long sewage overflow in Lynchburg.
The project would not only improve water quality, but it would keep water bills from going up. Lynchburg already has one of the highest yearly sewer rates in the commonwealth.
The city is asking for $50 million in federal emergency aid from Gov. Ralph Northam to fix the problem that started in the mid-1800′s, covering more than 6,000 acres of the city.
The request is part of a $1.4 billion package for ending overflows in Lynchburg, Richmond and Alexandria with money from the American Rescue Plan Act President Joe Biden signed into law on March 11.
Lynchburg, Richmond and Alexandria are the only three communities in the state with ongoing costly combined sewer overflow projects, according to a letter signed by Lynchburg Mayor MaryJane Dolan, Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney and John Hill, chairman of Alexandria Renew Enterprises, and sent to Northam last month.
Lynchburg has already spent about $300 million, with about $50 million left before the project’s completion.
Tim Mitchell, director of the Lynchburg Department of Water Resources, says heavy rains triggered overflows that drained raw sewage and stormwater into the James River.
He says back in the 1980s, Lynchburg was getting rid of more than a billion gallons of combined sewage out of the century-old wastewater pipes each year.
“We’re seeking the funding to help ease the burden on our ratepayers and achieve water quality quicker by completing the program sooner,” Mitchell says.
With the money, the city could fix the problem within the next five years. They will have an answer on that next month.