By Sean Tubbs

Charlottesville Tomorrow

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Governor Tim Kaine helps break the ground for the Moores Creek nutrient removal project

The $40.3 million upgrade and renovation of the

Moores Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant

is officially underway. Governor Tim Kaine (D) was on hand for a May 27, 2009 ground-breaking ceremony held on the location of what will be one of the plant’s new aeration basins.

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Construction will take 42 months, according to

Mike Gaffney

, the Chair of the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority (RWSA). Adams and Robinson, the contractor who won the bid for the project, will begin work next week.

The project is being funded in part by $21.5 million in grants from the state’s Water Quality Improvement Fund. The RWSA has also taken out low interest loans from Virginia’s revolving loans fund. Albemarle County will reimburse the RWSA for a new septage receiving facility. Gaffney said the project serves multiple purposes.

“First and foremost is the advancement of treatment technology to remove significant nitrogen and phosphorous from the treated wastewater,” Gaffney said. Those nutrients can contribute to algae blooms downstream, including the Chesapeake Bay, which leads to reduced oxygen for aquatic life.  Gaffney added the upgrade represents a significant investment in infrastructure, and will also improve the quality of life in nearby neighborhoods by

reducing odors

. Finally, Gaffney said the upgrades will reduce the amount of energy required to run the plant by harvesting energy locked up inside of the waste products themselves.

Supervisor David Slutzky (Rio)

“As we’ve densified human activity and concentrated on ourselves in cities, we’ve tended to densify our waste outputs,” said

David Slutzky

, Chair of the Albemarle County Supervisors. Slutkzy said the Moores Creek upgrade represents the next step in addressing the impact of humans on the natural ecology. He said the new technology installed at the plant will allow the RWSA to exceed the state-mandated guidelines to reduce nutrients, so much so that the RWSA will be able to sell credits to other localities in Virginia that cannot meet the same requirements.

“I’m very happy to come and shine a spotlight on what is being done in this community because I want other communities in Virginia to see it too and maybe emulate you,” Kaine said. As Governor, Kaine had never attended the groundbreaking for a new wastewater treatment plant but said it was important to attend this one.

Frankly, Virginia has been kind of a laggard among states in the Chesapeake Bay clean-up,” Kaine said. He said his predecessor, Governor Mark Warner (D), helped write new regulations calling for lower nutrient loads. Since then, Kaine said his administration and the General Assembly has made over $1 billion available to local governments to meet the new requirements, despite the slowdown in the economy.  He said both political parties seem to agree that cleaning the Chesapeake Bay is worth the investment.

“These projects can’t just happen without state help because there is no way the local community could make that investment and then charge it to the ratepayers without the rates just sky-rocketing,” Kaine said.



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