Feasibility Study Shows it May Be Possible to Renovate Septage Site

by Karen Goff March 11, 2016 at 10:30 am 20 Comments

Lake Fairfax Maintenance Area 6

It would be about $700,000 cheaper to renovate an existing Fairfax County septic disposal site rather than build a new one on Hunter Mill Road, says a Septage Site Receiving Study made available by Fairfax County.

Hunter Mill-area residents attended a somewhat contentious community meeting on Feb. 18, where they were skeptical of many things — including the need to relocate the site after 46 years from Colvin Run to Fairfax County Park Authority’s Maintenance Area 6 on Hunter Mill Road, where Reston meets Vienna.

The existing site (one of two in Fairfax County) serves about 21,000 homes with septic tanks — mostly in Great Falls and Oakton — as well as all restaurants in this part of the county, which must dispose of grease into the septage receiving site.

County officials said at the February meeting that the Colvin Run site floods, smells and is serviced by a pipe that is too small. The county looked at six sites, determining that Hunter Mill Road was the only one that could accommodate a facility, even though hauling trucks would have to contend with the one-lane bridge to access the location.

Residents who live on or near Hunter Mill Road were opposed to that plan, citing traffic, noise and the potential for sewage to get into nearby streams as concerns. They urged officials to go back to the drawing board to find a new location.

A couple of items of note in the report, prepared by consultants at Hazen and Sawyer:

The search for the new site came about after a petition was sent to Dranesville Supervisor John Foust. However, the petition only contained 20 signatures from 11 families.

The report was completed in June of 2015, but Hunter Mill-area residents said they did not know anything about the potential project until just before the February meeting.

About 6,000 trips are made to the Colvin Run site annually, the report says. But the consultants also recommend that Fairfax accept sewage from the City of Alexandria and Loudoun County, which would make the new site much busier.

A survey of haulers says that at least 20 percent of waste currently being hauled to Colvin Run may not originate in Fairfax County.

A new site at Hunter Mill will cost $3.4 million to construct. Renovating Colvin Run — which authorities said at the February meeting was not a possibility — would cost $2.6 million.

Read the full feasibility study on Fairfax County’s website.

Photo: Lake Fairfax Maintenance Area 6 

  • Mike M

    “A survey of haulers says that at least 20 percent of waste currently being hauled to Colvin Run may not originate in Fairfax County.”


  • Ming the Merciless

    Hey, hey, ho, ho,
    To Great Falls feces we say NO!

  • cRAzy

    So apparently the Colvin Run Septage facility is not the only thing around the County that is full of sh*t. It seems that the consultant Hazen, County waste officials, and Supervisors Foust and Hudgins are too!

    • Mary Biear

      Hazen is a paid consultant who makes more money by proposing more expensive projects. They get no prize for doing what right. That’s the job of our supervisor… Oh Yeah.. She’s not doing that either

  • VieDeMon

    Hmmm 800K more for Lake Fairfax than Colvin Mill? Why was that not even mentionned in Hazen’s briefing to Hunter Mill community, much less how raw sewage being carted in from surrounding counties?

  • Hunter Mill Road Resident

    Another argument they used for moving the site is that the current site is located next to the Connector Trail. However their own study notes that the Connector Trail will be moved well to the east of the site as part of the Route 7 widening project.

    They used outdated traffic data with respect to Hunter Mill Road. They gave no consideration to flooding on HMR, which occurs often. They totally discounted the fact that the proposed site is adjacent to a one-lane bridge that would have to be used by an increased amount of commercial trucks. They totally disregarded the increased traffic, including school buses and student age drivers that will be on HMR as a result of Oakcrest School and other projects. They are proposing to put what is essentially an industrial use into a residential/parkland setting. They are proposing to move an odor problem for a few and make it a problem for many. They’ve given no consideration to the potential for soil-borne asbestos at the proposed site, even though county maps identify the potential.

    And yes, in a May 2015 report to Loudoun County supervisors, in was estimated that 48% of LC’s septic waste was being dumped in Fairfax County, with most of that being at Colvin Run. That might answer why the need for a $3.4 million plant to replace a pipe in the ground.

    The entire proposal smells.

    And Supervisor Hudgins wonders why we get so upset!!!

    • Mike M

      Interesting. So, why do you think they are doing this?

      • Hunter Mill Road Resident

        It is an easy solution for them. There’s no land cost and it’s near the required size sewer line. And as they said in their presentation – “it’s convenient for the haulers.” My only guess is that they want to expand capacity beyond the 22 trucks they are currently servicing, which makes the proposal even worse given the road they will be using.

        It addresses the concerns of 20 or so constituents in Supervisor Foust’s district even though it puts those concerns onto many more residents who live north, south and east of the proposed site. It relocates the facility from the soon-to-be-moved Connector Trail (used by few) to a site within Lake Fairfax Park (used by many). It makes no sense.

        Their second option, to improve the Colvin Run facility which would allow them to remove the concerns of the 20 and is less expensive, is the one they should go with, or find a different site altogether.

  • Terry Maynard

    Interestingly, the Hazen consultant’s report says the Hunter Mill location is the best REPLACEMENT location. It does not say it is the best OVERALL location, and clearly upgrading the current Colvin Mill location is much less expensive–and certainly feasible.

  • Mary Biear

    IT is clear from reading the feasibility study, which they completed in June of 2015, but no residents have seen until now, that the study’s conclusion to put this site to Hunter Mill is flawed. There are many items to note that are inconsistent or just plan wrong. The natural outcome of a study like this should have excluded Hunter Mill Rd and Fairfax Park. It sounds like the Supervisor in GF made political points getting it out of his area, when the 10 residents (comprising 21 signatures) wanted it moved, . Even though they all built houses near the site knowing it was there. I don’t understand the motivation of our Supervisor Cathy Hudgins. Does she really think the people in Reston want raw sewage moved from GF and Oakton to our parks, on a one lane curvy road already lined with traffic? I am shocked that she does not listen to her constituents. It is unsafe, unsanitary and just plan wrong not to look for better alternatives, and less expensive ones like a potential upgrade to the current site.

    • Mike M

      Begs the question: Why?
      HM Road Resident has a very simple explanation. But I’m not sure that’s all there is to it. Seems like there is something more at work. Is Hudgins just that outclassed by the other one? Maybe, but why would she put up with this?

    • Greg

      Hudgings hasn’t listened to her constituents in years, if ever. Especially those who are opposed to higher taxes and more low-income housing or who favor cutting expenses or both.

  • concordpoint

    So, we can’t fully fund schools but we can spend more for a new site for effluent removal then improving the existing site. You can’t make this up.

  • Bob

    The really odd thing is why Hazen and officials at the poorly advertised public meeting failed entirely to mention the $8m project to refurbish the Difficult Run sewage pumping station – which co-located with exiting Colvin Run site, just a minute’s walk up the access road. Stranger yet is that Hazen are the architects and engineers for that project – but it somehow slipped their mind. It was never even mentioned until raised by a better informed member of the public

    The pumping station’s job is to ‘shave’ sewage from the adjacent Potomac Interceptor en route to the Blue Plains plant in DC and send it to the Fairfax County’s own Noman Cole treat. Its a strategic project, years in the planning

    So we have two sewage facilities at the same site and an existing investment of $8m – how could that not be part of the biased brief given at the meeting?

    Given that the Route 7 widening project will solve any remaining traffic and access issues including both relocation of the trail and redesign of the stream beds with the additional storm retention – there seems to be little rationale for relocating the current facility.

    The detail of the report shows that refurbishing the current site is entirely possible and far more cost effective – and its entirely possible that moving the septage point up the access road to the main pumping station which has a large hard standing area, would be even more cheaper.

    Why is there no costed option for combining the two co-located elements?

    Given that the facility has operated successfully since the 70’s (decades before the sizable Great Falls homes who initiated the original petition were even built) – this must be the most NIMBY proposal I’ve ever seen. You do have to wonder if the $300k/home budget isn’t about increasing the resale value of those homes.

    Add to that the fact that until recently the county appears to have had no idea that a huge proportion of Loudon septage was being improperly dumped at Colvin Run, it makes it very hard to have any confidence in Hazen or the County – especially as the consultants propose taking even more out of county waste.

    Leaving aside that moving the septage point to new location a few car lengths from the one lane bridge on a scenic byway such the Hunter Mill Road, already congested by the additional traffic from the metro density, is just a crazy – the current proposal makes no sense at all

    The county needs to take this back the drawing board and look more seriously at rationalising the Colvin Run Septage/Difficult Run pumping station joint site – especially as they’re already spending $8M there

    They really should be ashamed about trying to ram such an amateur proposal through.

    The proposal and the process stink

    • Ain’t nobody got time for that


      • Bob

        Turns out that an $8m sewage pumping station refurb is taking place a one minute walk from the existing Colvin colocated on the same access road – but the consultant, who is also the architect/engineer for the refurb failed to mention it despite being obvious solution
        Zero need to move septage point from that site – and much cheaper to improve @ Colvin run
        Whole proposal is rediculous pandering to small number of Great Falls residents who bought next to 40+ year old septic facility and regret it.

  • Greg

    That section of Leesburg Pike is set to be widened and upgraded in the coming years. Why can’t the septage site be renovated at the same time as part of the road-widening project?

    Also, why does the city of Alexandria haul its septage all the way to Colvin Run when it’s across the river from the Blue Plains treatment facility (the same treatment facility all of the septage from Colvin Run and most of northern Fairfax County is sent)?

  • Tammi Petrine

    I’m betting with a redo anywhere (which is needed) that the septage from Loudoun will be taxed when those haulers come to the NW FFX Co. facility. in fact, the talk at the meeting about the locked gate with card readers made me alert to the idea that the Co. has found yet another income stream. The consultant kept insisting that all ‘crap’ from Loudoun had to be dumped there and all from FFX had to be dumped here. What is this new revelation that this is not true???. There are so many inconsistencies here as to alert us all that this is a huge mess and everyone should pay close attention.

    Also, WHY would restaurants dump grease into the sewer??? Wow, isn’t that a terrible burden for water treatment plants? I would think that we would do better with more locally placed dumping tanks for grease (like a recycling center) that could be picked up and replaced on when needed. Also isn’t grease a valuable by-product that could be sold or burned for energy? Just a few alternative ideas…

  • Concerned

    Going back to the trail sited as an issue, and in addition to its future relocation, the trail was put there AFTER the sewage site. So that excuse for moving it does not make sense. In addition, you have 20 signatures from 11 households that bought their homes knowing this was there, now asking for it’s relocation to the tune of millions of dollars, and the county is OK with that? What happened to how tight the county is on $$? We have seen many more than 20 signatures not get their concerns addressed regarding other HM District issues in the past. The prospective relocation site has objection from many more than 20 at the meeting that was conveniently kept hush from the community and it’s constituents. These folks bought their homes with no sewage facility in their residential are and with no foresight of something this inappropriate landing in their neighborhood that doesn’t meet the requirements of a feasible location. We were also given as an excuse to relocate at the meeting, that the trucks have to make 5 point turns at the current site. Go see for yourself. They don’t! The citizens are constantly being disrespected by Cathy Hudgins who has forgotten her role to take the voice of the citizens and bring it forth, not dictate her own agenda. Then she wonders why her meetings are always so out of control.


Subscribe to our mailing list