The basin, completed in the late 1980s at a cost of $60 million, holds up to 35 million gallons of wastewater, with an additional $15 million held in connecting sewer pipes. In a heavy storm, the basin fills up in less than 30 minutes, but it requires up to four days to drain, as the city treats the contaminated water before releasing it into the river.
“This was one of the first solutions,” Bradley said. “It gets the first big flush.”
Kaine, who served on Richmond City Council and as mayor before becoming lieutenant governor and governor, said in an interview, “This is something I spent a lot of time on as mayor.”
“We spent hundreds of millions of dollars,” he said. “We have to spend hundreds of millions of dollars more.”
Despite those investments – including the doubling of capacity at the city’s wastewater treatment plant – the city’s combined sewers still discharge 1.9 billion gallons of untreated storm and wastewater into the James each year.
“All of us want to get rid of the untreated sewage in the James River,” said Bill Street, chief executive officer of the James River Association, which has been pushing the city and state to fix the problem for decades.
Environmentalists want Richmond to finish the work “as quickly as possible,” Street said in an interview after the news conference, “but we’re also realists.”
Leave a Reply