Sewage Haulers’ Priorities Differ From Fairfax County on Relocating Dumping Site

by Karen Goff April 1, 2016 at 11:30 am 5 Comments

Lake Fairfax Maintenance Area 6Fairfax County is continuing to contemplate moving the Colvin Run septage disposal site a few miles away to Hunter Mill Road, but their concerns are not necessarily the same as the haulers who make about 6,000 annual trips to the dumping tank.

County officials said in February they are considering closing the Colvin Run site, in operation for more than 40 years, and building a new one at Lake Fairfax Maintenance Area 6, a county-owned parcel on Hunter Mill Road on the Reston/Vienna border. The Colvin Run site is one of two in the county.

The county has 21,000 homes that are on septic tank and not public sewers. Those septic tanks must be cleaned out every five years, with waste hauled to Colvin Run or the Norman Cole site in the south end of the county. The septage sites are also used for restaurant grease disposal and portable toilet cleanout.

The officials say the Colvin Run site, which gets 6,000 visits annually (or about 22 trips per day), is outdated, its smells, and has a pipe too small to accommodate waste. It is also in a flood area and there is no way for trucks to turn around.

The county looked into the move after a handful of Colvin Run-area residents complained.

But the potential for the Reston-area site has many residents on this side of Route 7 very upset. Some of their concerns came to light at a community meeting six weeks ago. Among them: increase in traffic on Hunter Mill Road, which already can’t handle trucks going over a one-land bridge; proximity to home and a stream; concern that the septage dump stay closer to the 21,000 homes it serves, mostly in Great Falls and Oakton; and irritation that the move was presented as almost a done deal rather than a community input session.

The county says it researched six area sites, including renovating Colvin Run, for a new facility. The criteria: Proximity to a 30-inch sewer pipe; off a major road; outside of a floodplain; away from public use (but on county land); and an available footprint to build a secure, odor-controlled facility where trucks could drive in a loop rather than have to back up to leave.

At the meeting, they said Colvin Run could not be renovated. However, a report by environmental consultants Hazen and Sawyer, hired by the county for this project, said it may be feasible.

Meanwhile, the report also sent surveys to the 48 registered hauling companies. Here is what the haulers said were their preferences and priorities:

76 percent said it was very important to have the Colvin Run site. Only 32 percent said the Norman Cole site, which serves the south end of the county, was important.

86 percent said it was important to have septage receiving in Fairfax County.

They are not hauling much waste from Reston. The largest portion — 29 percent — comes from Great Falls/Hunter Mill. The Clifton and Lorton areas each had 21 percent and 16 percent respectively. Haulers said 12 percent was coming from Loudoun County and 9 percent from DC. Overall, at least 20 percent of the waste being discharged at Fairfax County sites may originate from other jurisdictions.

Haulers were asked the question: If Colvin Run Closed, how far would you be willing to travel to another site?

  • 2 miles – 15 percent
  • 5 miles – 31 percent
  • 10 miles – 23 percent
  • 15 miles – 4 percent
  • 20 miles or more – 27 percent

The sewage handlers had a variety of opinions on what makes a facility more or less desirable to use. The key preferable features were:

  • Easy access
  • The ability to pressurize the tank while discharging washdown stations
  • Restrooms

All of these features, aside from restrooms, are available at the existing Colvin Run site. Conversely, sewage handlers did not prefer facilities that have:

  • Requirement to turn the truck around
  • Long wait times
  • Restricted hours
  • Gravity discharge
  • High fees
  • Non-central location
  • Lack of snow removal in winter

County officials are finishing up a public comment session, and also told citizens it would look into other area sites that could be more convenient to Route 7.

A public update is expected soon.

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