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Wastewater management focuses on the control of water that is collected in discrete conveyances (also called point sources), including pipes, ditches and sanitary or storm sewers. It is the proper collection, treatment and discharge of domestic wastes from households and industries, in order to clean, protect and minimize adverse environmental and public health effects on the Potomac River and its tributaries. Wastewater from households and industries is collected in sanitary sewers, and usually treated at one of the treatment plants in our region. After treatment, the wastewater is discharged to its receiving water (e.g., a river, an estuary or an ocean).
Fairfax Water, City of Falls Church and Town of Vienna provide this combined bill for convenience and cost savings. The quarterly sewer service charge is determined by your water consumption during the prior winter quarter. Funds collected for sewer charges are then transferred to the Sanitary Sewer Fund, which is used to support the operations and maintenance of the collection system.
The Fairfax County sewer collection system consists of approximately 3,200 miles of pipe. Your home or business is connected by a service line, called a sewer lateral, to the sanitary sewer system. The Wastewater Collection Division of the Fairfax County Department of Public Works and Environmental Services operates and maintains the collection system. Property owners are responsible for maintaining the sewer lateral.
- Do not pour cooking oils and grease down your household drains. Cooking oils and grease should be disposed of in the trash, as they may cause problems in your service line and possibly the county sewer.
- Do not vandalize or tamper with sanitary sewer manholes. If you see anyone lifting manhole covers and putting objects such as sticks, logs, bricks, glass bottles, etc., down the manholes, please report it immediately. This tampering causes sewer blockages which result in sewer backups or overflows into homes and backyards. Report acts of vandalism or tampering with manholes to 703-323-1211, TTY 711. Vandalism to the sewer collection system creates significant environmental problems and increased costs for county sewer rate payers. Your assistance will help in keeping your neighborhood from experiencing sewer backups and spills.
Some regional parks have disposal locations. The Noman M. Cole Pollution Control Plant accepts RV waste from county residents, but requires prior notification so an escort can be provided. See list of disposal locations that is available online.
The location of a private swimming pool is regulated by the Zoning Ordinance, Section 10-104 (Accessory Uses and Structures), paragraph 12.
- In-ground swimming pools may be located in the rear and side yards of any lot. On lots over 36,000 square feet, pools may be located in front of the dwelling, however the pool must be placed outside the minimum required front yard..
- If an above-ground pool is less than 7 feet in height, it may be located in any rear or side yard.
- Swimming pools which cover a large percentage of the yard may be restricted; call the Zoning Permit Review Branch at 703-222-1082, TTY 711, for more information.
Also, check with your homeowners association for additional regulations on private swimming pools.
If swimming pool water is released improperly, it may have a negative effect on the environment and on your neighbor's property. Guidelines for swimming pool discharges can be found on the Proper Discharge of Swimming Pool Water Web page or by emailing the Stormwater Planning Division or call 703-324-5500, TTY 711. Commercial swimming pool operators should call the Health Department at 703-246-2300, TTY 711.
When public sewer is not available, a septic system may be installed with the approval from Fairfax County Division of Environmental Health. For more information on septic systems, please visit the Division of Environmental Health website or call them at 703-246-2201, TTY 711.
Homeowners whose septic systems are failing, and deemed non-repairable by the Division of Environmental Health, will be required to connect to sewer if the property is within 300 feet of available public sanitary sewer.
For failing septic systems where sanitary sewer is not available, property owners should contact the Division of Environmental Health for available alternatives.
All outhouses in use today in Fairfax County have been grandfathered. All new construction will be required to have a sewage disposal system that is approved under the current codes.
Wastewater Planning and Monitoring is not responsible for retaining easement information. Please visit Land Records Division of the Fairfax County Courts or call 703-691-7320.
Business and Industry
Not every industrial discharger is required to have a permit, but all dischargers must be in compliance with the Fairfax County Sewer Use Ordinance (Chapter 67.1 Sanitary Sewers and Sewage Disposal). Permits are issued to federally regulated industries (Categorical Industrial Users), dischargers with volumes of process wastes greater than 25,000 gallons per day, or any discharger with the potential to negatively impact the sanitary sewer system. See discharge approval/permits.
The Sanitary Sewers and Sewage Disposal Chapter (67.1) of the Fairfax County Code prohibits the discharge of substances that can adversely affect the sanitary sewer system and the wastewater treatment process.
Prohibited substances (see Article 2 of the Fairfax County Code) include acidic and caustic waste that can corrode sewers, viscous substances such as fats, oils and grease that can block sewers and cause overflows and backups, chemicals that can cause a fire or explosion, noxious or malodorous materials that can present a health and safety menace, petroleum oils in concentrations that exceed 100 parts per million (ppm), medical wastes, and hazardous/toxic wastes.
Fairfax County is divided into sewer service areas that discharge to six regional wastewater treatment plants (the County’s Noman M. Cole, Jr. Pollution Control Plant, District of Columbia’s Blue Plains Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant, Upper Occoquan Service Authority’s Regional Water Reclamation Plant, Alexandria Renew Enterprises’ Water Resource Recovery Facility, Arlington County’s Water Pollution Control Plant, and Prince William County Service Authority’s Advanced Water Reclamation Facility).
Fairfax County wastewater discharges to these jurisdictions must meet additional discharge standards (local limits) that are specific to the respective wastewater treatment plants. See discharge limits/regulations.
Fairfax County Health Department issues license to haulers. Please visit Permit Applications, Forms and Resources page of Fairfax County Health Department or call 703-246-2201 Septic and Well customer service center.
Groundwater from remediation projects is not allowed into the sanitary sewer unless approved by Fairfax County Industrial Waste Section. Groundwater can be disposed of to the storm sewer after obtaining a permit from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. Additionally, you must contact Fairfax County Fire & Rescue for any groundwater remediation project. If the project is within the Towns of Clifton, Herndon, Vienna, or the cities of Falls Church or Fairfax; you must contact those jurisdictions.
Wastewater can be discharged into a sink or floor drain after the carpet fibers or hair have been screened or filtered from the wastewater. This prevents the sanitary sewer from becoming clogged due to the fibers.
- No, septage by definition (see Fairfax County Code Chapter 67.1-1-3) is not considered industrial waste. About 49% of the septage disposed at our facilities is collected from Fairfax County residential septic tanks, which the Health Department requires to be pumped out at least every five years. About 27% of the waste is received from servicing portable toilets that are used at a variety of special events and construction sites in the county. About 17% is food grade grease trap/interceptor waste collected from restaurants and other food service establishments. A minor amount of waste (7%) comes from commercial septic tanks that contain domestic waste, as well as swimming pool backwash water.
- No, septage transport trucks are not permitted and are prohibited from carrying hazardous waste. Fairfax County's Health Department inspects and registers the trucks owned and operated by pump and haul contractors to ensure compliance with Chapter 68.1 of the County Code and Virginia's Sewage Handling and Disposal Regulations (12 VAC 5-610-10 et seq.).
For information about the process for converting a cooling tower from storm sewer to sanitary sewer, please see Cooling Towers page.