Septage Receiving Site Feasibility Study Concludes

March 27, 2017
For Immediate Release

Septage Receiving Site Feasibility Study Concludes

In October 2014, the Fairfax County's Wastewater Management Program initiated a Septage Receiving Site Feasibility Study to review the operations of the county's two septage (septic tank, portable toilet, and restaurant grease-trap waste) receiving facilities, assess future need of the septage receiving program, and identify potential sites to replace the outdated and obsolete (almost 40 years old) facility serving the northern half of the county.

After an extensive search of potential sites and associated cost-benefit analysis, the county has decided not to pursue the construction of a new facility to replace the existing north county site (i.e., Colvin Run Septage Receiving Facility), which will be permanently closed. The high costs of purchasing property and constructing a new facility makes it impractical to recover expenditures through reasonable service fees. Further, the alternative disposal options for county generated septage which were instituted during the temporary closure of the Colvin Run Facility (including options at the Noman M. Cole Pollution Control Plant, the Upper Occoquan Service Authority facility, and D.C. Water's Blue Plains facility) have worked effectively and will be able to meet future needs.

Of the decision, Dranesville District Supervisor Foust said, "Closing the Colvin Run facility permanently is great news for neighboring residents and trail patrons who have lived with periodic odors and noise of septage hauling trucks for years. I'm also relieved that we're closing the facility before any accidents occur due to deteriorating infrastructure, which could threaten public health and the environment."

The county is required by the Code of Virginia to provide capacity for treating septage. The county's septage is managed through interjurisdictional agreements with the Upper Occoquan Service Authority, D.C. Water (Blue Plains), and at the county's septage receiving facility located at the Noman M. Cole, Jr., Pollution Control Plant, in Lorton.

The county sought an alternative site for the Colvin Run facility because it was considered to pose unacceptable health and environmental risks due its obsolete infrastructure, location within a floodplain, and proximity to a multiuse recreational trail. During the course of the feasibility study, the Colvin Run facility was closed temporarily in June 2016, because of safety concerns associated with construction of the co-located Difficult Run wastewater pumping station. Since the Colvin Run closure, septage haulers have rerouted their trucks to deliver waste to the other alternative facilities which accept Fairfax County septage.

The feasibility study focused on northern Fairfax County because about half of the more than 21,000 individual septic tank systems in the county and about half of the 3,200 food service establishments, whose grease traps must be regularly emptied, are located in the area.

Of the 169,778 land parcels located in the northern half of the county, the team identified 972 potential sites, but only 76 sites met the team's minimal stated criteria:

  • 16-inch sewer line and road access with 50-foot R/W
  • Industrial/commercially zoned or government owned
  • Greater than 225 feet from nearest residential parcel
  • Parcel size of at least one acre and located outside the floodplain

One of the initial sites studied was a maintenance area located on Fairfax County Park Authority property in Reston. Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins said, "Closing the Colvin Run facility was appropriate, especially since the septage haulers have other disposal options in the area. Staff from the county's Wastewater Management Program were very transparent throughout their study, and I appreciate their efforts to keep our community informed while they sought a solution."


Septage Receiving Site Feasibility Study Concludes
The Colvin Run septage receiving facility is permanently closed.


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


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