At the end of March, the County Council in Alexandria, Va. passed an amendment to the current 10-year water and sewer plan. The amendment, known as the Elrich Amendment, is to protect the clean streams and stop sewer sprawl. Without the amendment, sewer extensions enable urban sprawl, disrupt the natural environment, threaten water quality in streams, pollute drinking water supplies, destroy forest cover, and enable the massive increase in house size and footprint with increased stormwater runoff. The amendment will now do two things: proactive outreach and change objective of septic surveys.
Education and outreach are extremely important for this type of work. Most of the public is not well-educated when it comes to sewer and water. Being pro-active with outreach and education for septic system owners can potentially help prevent system failures. Education for these owners, or for people thinking about this system, is key to maintaining the septic system in the best way possible.
In the original plan, the objective of the septic surveys was to be used as a mechanism to promote sewer sprawl. It also approved conversions of septic to sewer. The new amendment now changes the objective to identifying and fixing actual or anticipated septic system failures. Sewer extensions would be limited to those properties with failed systems for which all available solutions have been visited.
As the necessity to repair aging sewer infrastructure becomes apparent, the extent of the damage caused by sewers is all too evident. Eroded and broken sewer pipes in the area sometimes require the use of heavy equipment to make repairs. To add to that, the county sewer lines spilled more than nine million gallons of raw sewage in the last three years due to blockage-caused overflows. In the area’s low-density, rural, and agricultural zones, reliance on septic has been key to keeping development pressure low.
The county is waiting for final revised wording added to the plan before a final vote takes place on April 10.
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