When Veolia took over the operations, maintenance and management of Richmond’s wastewater treatment facility and sanitary sewer collection system, it faced a number of challenges brought about by an aging and deteriorating infrastructure.With equipment and pipes more than 60 years old – and some close to 100 years old – there was a lengthy list of capital improvements that would be needed to address service issues and restore the system to optimum functionality.
Veolia’s contract, initiated in 2002, was for 20 years and those improvements would require a considerable investment of time and resources over the course of that period.However, Veolia was chosen as the City’s partner because of its vast experience with similarly complex projects and the deep expertise a global company of its caliber bring to its clients.
To understand the size and scope of the project, it’s important to look at the facts:
- The wastewater treatment facility was built in 1953 and upgraded to secondary treatment in 1967, a more advanced treatment process which produces cleaner treated water or effluent. The final substantial expansion was completed in 1990 with the addition of a third secondary clarifier.
- The sewer collection system is made up of 185 miles of underground pipes.
- The storm water drainage system is made up of 197 miles of underground pipes.
- The plant processes an average dry weather flow of 6.5 million gallons of wastewater per day; in wet weather, the plant can see an increase of flow up to 40 million gallons of wastewater per day.
The focus of the capital improvement work has been across several areas:improvement in regulatory compliance and reduction in violations, reduction in incidents such as sewer system overflows, and improvement in odor control.
In the first ten years of the contract, Veolia has made significant progress and helped ratepayers realize considerable cost savings.Among the highlights to date:
- $43 million in capital improvements to the City of Richmond’s sewer collection system.
- $14.5 million in capital improvements to the City of Richmond’s wastewater treatment facility.
- $1.7 million in capital improvements to the City of Richmond’s storm drainage system.
- Increased permit compliance from 67% to 97% since taking over the contract.
- Reduction in sewer overflows by 84% in the last 5 years.
While these milestones are notable, they are not often visible to residents.The following is an overview of our work at the plant and within the Richmond community:
- Between 2002 and 2004, upgrades were made to the influent station (new bar screen for solids removal; including rags, sticks and similar materials), the digester tanks and covers were rehabilitated and the primary clarifiers were also upgraded with new surfacing, railings and components for the sludge collection and distribution system.
- Between 2004 and 2008 work was targeted on the collection system with major upgrades to lift or pump station reliability (including back up power and installation of remote monitoring capabilities).
- Between 2009 and 2011 construction was underway on new replacement influent pumps, influent pump station odor control and a new building and equipment for digester heating, mixing and control.Those projects were completed and facilities brought on line in 2011.
- During that same time frame, several projects were completed for reducing tidal inflow (at four separate sites).Flap gates and duck bills (structures designed to eliminate sea water from flowing back into the collection system) were installed. Finally, in 2011 major pipeline repair and replacement projects were completed in the collection system and a new cover was installed on one of the digesters.
The work is far from complete, but we are making progress in bringing Richmond’s wastewater treatment infrastructure and services to a higher level. We will continue to update our improvements and accomplishments in our ongoing effort to keep you informed.
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