LYNCHBURG, Va. – Lynchburg is a major step closer to finishing its decades-old Combined Sewer Overflow Program.
Leaders announced Tuesday that the city is receiving $25 million through the American Rescue Plan.
Tim Mitchell, director of Lynchburg’s department of water resources, says it will relieve taxpayers, who have been bearing the brunt of the project.
“It will help ease the burden on our sewer rate payers for decades to come,” said Mitchell.
Construction began in the 1970s, and the city’s invested $300 million in the water treatment program.
“When the sewer and storm systems were built back in the 1800s, there wasn’t a treatment plant, so they were combined. When we have heavy rainfalls, raw sewage goes directly to the James River and the streams in Lynchburg,” said Mitchell.
Since it started, the program separated most of the water, which is more than 5,000 acres of combined sewer area.
Mitchell says the federal funding will help the Hill City achieve and exceed its water-quality goals.
“We anticipate that we’ll be able to complete the program, with this money, within the next five years,” said Mitchell.
Without the funding, he says the project would take at least another decade.
But Lynchburg must receive the $25 million through a local match.
“It’s all or nothing. We won’t be able to spend a dollar of that if we don’t spend a dollar to match it; so, it’s definitely contingent on us matching the funds,” said Mitchell.
He says city leaders are now waiting on more guidance to learn which funds qualify for the match.