Tell Virginia Legislators: NO Delaying Fixing Alexandria’s Sewage Overflows

Photo by Tusik Only

If you strongly believe that no city in America, especially one of the wealthiest, should be dumping their raw sewage into a river others swim in and eat from, then read on. Or better yet, tell everyone you know to take action here, then read on, because our window of opportunity is closing fast.

For over 20 years the political leadership in Alexandria, Virginia knew dumping raw sewage in the Potomac River, our Nation’s River, was wrong. But they did it anyway — 70 million gallons every year. And even though their own water quality monitoring showed the river unsafe for human contact over 50% of the time, they made little effort to warn children on local high school rowing teams — or anyone else making contact with the river — that they risked exposure to unsafe levels of e-coli bacteria. Budget year after budget year came and went with no funds committed to addressing the largest sewage discharge point, just on the edge of Old Town, a few feet from the future site of a proposed luxury hotel.

Before our Potomac Riverkeeper Dean Naujoks began working with the media and the community to get their dirty little secret out, Alexandria’s plan was to start studying the problem in 2030. No promises were made about when it would actually be fixed. Alexandria residents, who celebrate the city’s status as an “eco-city”, began demanding action. They’re calling on the city to stop dumping sewage into the Potomac, and that’s exactly what we’re asking you to do right now.

With the help of Virginia State Senator Scott Surovell, a bi-partisan bill (HB 2383) requiring Alexandria to clean up its act by 2025 was sent it to Governor McAuliffe’s desk several weeks ago. But several Northern Virginia Delegates, (many who have strong environmental voting records, and tell their supporters they care about protecting the Chesapeake Bay) begged the Governor to give Alexandria more time, and he gave it to them. Unfortunately, it is years longer than independent expert consultants said was necessary and puts 200-350 million additional gallons of sewage laden storm water into our river.

The bill, with these harmful delays, will be voted on by the Virginia Assembly next week. That only gives us a few days to take actionPlease consider a donation to help us in these last few days to get a bill that will stop sewage overflows sooner rather than later!

Please email and call the 35 Delegates who voted against the bill with the 2025 deadline to let them know you want Alexandria to stop dumping raw sewage into the Potomac as soon as possible. Find phone numbers here.

Please call the Governor (804-786-2211) or send an email to let him know you expect him to pass laws that protect the Potomac from pollution. Governor McAuliffe should sign the bi-partisan bill with the 2025 deadline that passed the legislature.

We’re on the brink of a tremendous victory, and we can’t let up now. Elected officials like Senator Scott Surovell stood strong, and that’s the kind of leadership we’ll need to restore our river for future generations. Now we need your help reaching out to the 35 Delegates who caved rather than supporting a bill that protects our rivers. Next week they have a second chance. Tell them you’ll be watching their vote and holding them accountable.  

P.S. In the last year, with your help, we’ve invested in new communication tools and staff to raise the profile of our issues and our organization. And it’s paying off. Just google Potomac Riverkeeper Network and “coal ash” or “Alexandria sewage” and you’ll see what we mean. Please sign up for monthly donations to sustain our efforts to keep pollution out of the Shenandoah and the Potomac. Thank you.