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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Repairs under way to address sewage spills, Lake Barcroft residents assured

Work underway at the pumping station on July 8.
The repair work to address the recent sewage spills in Lake Barcroft is proceeding despite the apparent lack of activity at the work site in recent days, and residents’ concerns about the possibility of additional sewage spills are unfounded, says Charles W. de Seve, chairman of the board of trustees for the Lake Barcroft Watershed Improvement District (WID). There had been four separate spills since April 29, dumping a total of 413,000 gallons of sewer water into the lake.

Testing has shown “normal levels of bacteria well below the commonwealth’s threshold for lake activity,” reports de Seve in an email sent to Lake Barcroft residents July 8.

One resident had earlier reported seeing from her boat “a plume of something nasty-looking” flowing from the pumping station on Sleepy Hollow Road into the lake near the women’s garden.

“There is no evidence a small ‘plume’ of darker water spotted by kayakers near Holmes Run has anything to do with a sewer discharge and was not visible to WID staff who investigated,” de Seve states.

During a June 26 meeting, hosted by Mason Supervisor Penny Gross, many Lake Barcroft residents expressed frustration with the way Fairfax County officials were handling the sewage spills, which happened during an ongoing project to re-line a sewer force main under Sleepy Hollow Road, resulting in stormwater overwhelming a pumping station on Holmes Run.

County officials assured residents at the meeting that work on fixing the pumping station would be done 24/7 and the project would be finished by July 7. “Not only have workers not been there 24/7, the job is nowhere close to being finished,” the resident says. “It looks to me like nothing much is happening.”

“Actually, the scope of the work has expanded, adding more stability to sewer line joints and giving the lake an extra measure of protection.” De Seve responded in the July 8 email. At the request of county engineers, he said, “a second engineering firm, CH2M Hill, reviewed the re-engineering of the failed pipe joint after the final spill (as suggested in the community meeting). Thus, the delay adds safety and does not signal a new problem nor any failure on the part of Dewberry, the firm that did the re-engineering.”

A tentative schedule now calls for the work on the pumping station to be completed and the pit to be filled in by July 17. The temporary sewer line should be removed and the site cleaned up on July 21.

“While any sewer spill is serious and may temporarily curtail use of the lake, please keep in mind that the recent spills, though carrying bacteria, were almost entirely water—the  largest contained over 85 percent stormwater,” de Seve states. “In the weeks since the spills, the flow of new water has diluted and removed whatever sewer bacteria remained.”

1 comment:

  1. Is this why it always stinks when you drive past the dam?