2014 sewer spills - State's proposed settlement with the County
Dear LBA Community
The last stages of the state's and county's resolution of the 2014 sewer spills that impacted Lake Barcroft is in progress. A proposed Consent Order between the State’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and Fairfax County has been negotiated to resolve civil administrative charges that DEQ has filed against the County as a result of the sewer spills in and around Lake Barcroft. A comment period is open to everyone through May 28th and LBA is planning to file comments on behalf of the community.
The LBA Board is focusing on the following points:
- The Notice of Violation (the charging document) only charges Fairfax County with three violations. It should be amended to include the April 30, 2014, violation, the first-occurring of the violations. Although the April 30th violation is referenced in the factual background section of the proposed Consent Order, it is not an actual charged violation. We understand from the State that this is because at the time of the April 30th incident, no other violations within a designated reporting period had occurred. However, because three other violations occurred within the following six weeks, we believe the April 30th violation should also be charged.
- The proposed Consent Order does not address the county’s use of an undersized bypass pipe as the diversion pipe during the work last year at the Sleepy Hollow Pumping Station. We argue the Consent Order should include directions on the size of bypass pipes in the future so spills do not occur as a result of undersized pipes.
- While the proposed Consent Order includes what is referred to as a Supplemental Environmental Project (SEP) to address a fish kill that occurred downstream from the Lake as a result of a spill in October 2013, there is no SEP proposed to offset impacts to Lake Barcroft from the 2014 spill incidents. Since appropriate SEPs can include emergency preparedness actions, LBA will be asking the State to include a SEP that will reimburse LBA for the initial annual cost of an emergency notification system that we are implementing to better notify members of our community when emergencies such as the sewer spills occur.
- Finally, we will argue that a proposed public notification procedure should be included in the Consent Order itself, rather than in an appendix, for two reasons: (1) so there can be public comment on them; and (2) so they cannot be unilaterally changed.
Anyone may submit comments on the proposed Consent Order to the State. They are due by next Thursday, May 28, 2015. Comments may be submitted by email to the attention of Sarah Baker, an attorney with State DEQ. Her email address is Sarah.Baker@deq.virginia.gov. Comments may also be faxed to Ms. Baker’s attention at (703) 583-3821.
Below are the key documents from the ongoing administrative proceeding so that you may examine those in case you wish to make your own individual comment. When LBA’s comments are finalized, I will post those on Lakelink and on our website.