An Interesting Exchange of Information Between Fairfax County and the Republic of Korea

Dec. 2, 2016
For Immediate Release

An Interesting Exchange of Information Between Fairfax County and the Republic of Korea

In late November, based on a request from Ben Bahk of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Office of Enforcement, the Wastewater Collections Division (with support from the Stormwater Planning Division) hosted a Republic of Korea (i.e., South Korea) delegation representing the Korea Environment Corporation, a national government agency equivalent to the United States EPA.

Members of the delegation were focused on administering their wastewater and stormwater regulatory programs. Wastewater Management Program staff and Stormwater Planning Division staff talked to the visitors and made PowerPoint presentations about the policies and procedures Fairfax County has in place, and what actions are taken to meet the respective Virginia Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (VPDES) permit requirements in wastewater and stormwater. The visit included a two hour tour of the Nomen M. Cole, Jr. Pollution Control plant and the laboratory.

In their roles as engineers, members of the delegation were particularly interested in how VPDES permit effluent discharge limits are determined. Staff talked about this process in general and Juan Reyes, Wastewater Environmental Services Laboratory Director, used his previous NPDES permit-writer experience to explain this. "I also let them know about EPA's National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit writer's guidance and indicated that the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality has their version of the federal guidance," Juan said. "Our visitors were specifically interested in the water quality models and calculations that are used in determining VPDES effluent limitations for wastewater treatment plants, such as those in the Fairfax County permit."

Environment Corporation, Republic of Korea.To kick off the meeting, the South Korean engineers described the sewage system in Korea, the problems they are encountering and their questions for Fairfax County. Peter Lee, the organizer of the delegation, presented the "current issue of sewage in Korea" and the "problem of wet weather flow treatment." The sewage service in Korea has been improved over several recent decades. The expansion of the service has been focused on the treatment of dry weather flow. Several problems have been discovered during wet weather that usually result in combined sewer and sanitary sewer overflows. Several pilot projects have been undertaken including a project for trunk sewers of Inceon and Gapyung in 2014 and 2015 and a project for a wet weather master plan of Seosan and Namwon in 2015 and 2016.

The visitors were particularly interested in:

  • The county's MS4 permit
  • The county's dual system for stormwater and wastewater
  • Sanitary sewer overflows
  • Best Management Practices relating to stormwater and wastewater.

Kate Bennett, MS4 Program Coordinator, Stormwater Planning Division (SWPD), talked about state and local regulatory program drivers such as the Virginia Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (VPDES) and Fairfax County Ordinances. "I talked about the permit itself, when it was re-issued to the county; the specific discharges from the MS4 to state waters; and the development and implementation of the MS4 program." Kate said. "The visitors asked really good questions and they were very interested in every detail of our MS4 permit and program."

Also of interest to the visitors was Charles Smith's portion of the presentation when he talked about the types of projects that the county installs, and the environmental benefits of the projects. "They were interested in the use of cisterns for harvesting stormwater so I talked about the George C. Marshall High School rainwater harvesting project and how a cistern is useful in certain applications; how they capture, divert and store rainwater for later use," Charles said. "There are six components of a rainwater harvesting system: the collection surface; collection and conveyance system (gutters/downspouts); a pre-screening and first flush diverter; storage tank; distribution or outflow system; and the overflow, filter path or secondary runoff reduction," Charles said.

The PowerPoint presentation was filled with pictures of projects: before; during and after. Charles also talked about infiltration practices and how they work. Maintenance unit costs were of interest: for example a constructed wetland may treat 4.6 acres and the cost to maintain the wetland per acre is about $1,500. It seems that stream restorations are the most cost effective best management practice with Total Nitrogen (TN) at $2,100 per pound; Total Phosphorus (TP) at $17,800 per pound; and Total Suspended Solids (TSS) at $53 per pound.

An Interesting Exchange of Information Between Fairfax County and the Republic of Korea


Contact: Matthew Kaiser, Public Information Officer 
Department of Public Works and Environmental Services 
703-324-8455, TTY 711


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