Fairfax County employees of the Environmental Monitoring Branch and the Industrial Waste Section recently conducted intensive testing to develop local discharge limits for various pollutants entering the publicly owned treatment works (the Noman M. Cole, Jr., Pollution Control Plant) that has been in operation since October 1970. The results of this testing are used to limit the introduction of harmful chemicals and substances into the sewer system that may damage the integrity of the treatment works, cause blockages and overflows or pass through the treatment works and harm the environment.
During local limits sampling, employees of the Industrial Waste Section collected 24-hour composite samples of wastewater for seven consecutive days from multiple locations in the county and throughout the treatment works for testing. Collected samples were transferred to the Environmental Monitoring Branch onsite laboratory where staff conduct extensive analyses to test for a variety of pollutants in each sample, review and ensure quality control of the data and report sample results.
Analytical results are used to determine the amount of pollutants entering the treatment works and the amount of each pollutant being removed. This allows employees to determine the concentration of a specific pollutant a business can discharge into the sewer without causing harm to the system. These limits are incorporated into discharge permits for local industrial and commercial users thus ensuring the integrity of the system and the environment.
Environmental Monitoring Branch and Industrial Waste Section employees perform this monitoring every five years and reevaluate local limits as required by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.
In addition to local limits testing, Industrial Waste Section employees survey businesses, monitor and inspect facilities that discharge industrial wastewater, issue discharge permits or authorizations, evaluate code compliance and take enforcement action to assure compliance with the County Code and protection of the environment and the treatment works.
Fairfax County provides reliable sewer service and wastewater treatment that is delivered through the investment in infrastructure valued at more than $2 billion and with an annual operating budget of $275 million.