Stinking to high heaven. The City of Alexandria spews an astonishing 11 million gallons of raw sewage into the Potomac River every year. The overflows happen just about every time it rains. This is the result of a combined sewer system that is designed to collect sewage and runoff in a single system. When it rains, the runoff spikes and Alexandria’s treatment plant can’t handle the volume. The excess of mixed runoff and sewage is intentionally overflowed into the Potomac River in four separate dumping locations. This has been happening for 100 years.
Raising procrastination to an art form. Many U.S. cities have combined sewer overflow (CSO) problems. The environmental damage is well understood and the approach to solving the problem is well understood. You basically build a great big underground holding tank to catch the excess sewage and runoff until the treatment plant can catch up to demand. Washington, D.C., Richmond and Lynchburg join Alexandria in needing to deal with their CSO problem. The difference between Alexandria and the other three cities is that the other cities are well along in solving the problem while the well-heeled progressives in Alexandria were content to spew human waste into the Chesapeake Bay watershed without any more than a pretense of a plan to remedy the situation. However, in a stunning stroke of clarity, the Virginia General Assembly changed all that. They boxed Alexandria’s ears leaving the snowflakes in that city’s government with an epic case of tinnitus.
Our glorious General Assembly. During the 2017 session the Virginia General Assembly essentially told Alexandria that “enough was enough.” The legislature passed bills setting a fast-paced schedule for Alexandria to fix its disgusting sewer system. The city has eight years to attend to a problem that should have been addressed a decade ago. The Mayor and City Council members of Alexandria cried like babies after being told they needed to stop dumping raw sewage into the river. Alexandria has a median household income of $89,200 and can afford an “Office for Women” along with hybrid buses that cost $750,000 apiece (twice the cost of a normal diesel bus and they idle all the time anyway). However, they can’t fund a fix to dumping raw sewage?
Odd bedfellows. The Alexandria sewage affair made for some odd bedfellows. Progressive Democratic state Senator Scott Surovell, D-Mount Vernon, launched a Twitter offensive against his lefty pals in Alexandria over the matter. Of course Surovell represents the district immediately downriver from Alexandria! Conservative Republican state senator Richard Stuart, R-Westmoreland, patroned the initial legislation, which was much more draconian than what was ultimately passed. Stuart also represents a district downriver from Alexandria. Support for the bill in both the House and Senate came primarily from Republicans while opposition was primarily from Democrats. Governor McAuliffe tried to elongate Alexandria’s schedule but was rebuffed by the General Assembly and ultimately signed the strict bill.
Update. After insisting that the city needed five years to study the matter Alexandria’s plan was written and approved within a year. After insisting that the eight-year schedule was an engineering impossibility the city now says the schedule is doable. Funny what happens when liberals are forced to do the things they insist everybody else must do.
Warning. Before any of you wizards in the peanut gallery start carping about my anti-liberal bias … remember this post. I am anti-two-faced politicians who espouse a political philosophy like property rights or environmentalism but then backtrack on their supposed beliefs when it comes time to act.
Hero award: Scott Surovell.
— Don Rippert