Fairfax County Starting New Search for Septic Site Not on County Land

DONS JOHNS Fairfax County will embark on a new search for a septage site in an effort to find an ideal dumping ground for waste in this part of the county.

Fairfax County announced in February that it wanted to move one of two county septic tank dumping sites from Colvin Run in Great Falls to Lake Fairfax Maintenance Area 6, a parcel on the Reston/Vienna line owned by the park authority.

The Colvin Run site, which is currently closed for nearby construction, has been used by sewage haulers since 1970. The facility is outdated, in a flood plain, smells and is poorly equipped to handle truck turnaround, county officials said.

Last winter, officials said it looked at six county sites, and found the Lake Fairfax one the only suitable one.

The proposed move did not sit well with area residents, who spoke up at a contentious community meeting. They told county Department of Public Works and Environmental Services (DPWES) and consultants from Hazen and Sawyer that the Lake Fairfax spot, located near Hunter Mill Road’s one-lane bridge, was a poor choice because of proximity to homes, increased traffic on a country road and environmental hazards.

In April, DPWES said the project was on hold for at least six months. Last week, an additional task order was finalized for expanding the septage receiving site feasibility study, and a consultant has begun work.

“Based on the feedback received from the public, the new task order will include a search for commercial and industrial zoned properties that are undeveloped, vacant, or available for acquisition,” says the project’s website.

“The goal of the expanded study is to identify suitable and feasible locations in the northern part of Fairfax County where septic tank waste and restaurant grease, or septage, generated locally by residents and businesses, can be discharged for treatment in a safe, cost-effective, and environmentally adequate manner.”

There are 21,000 homes in the county not hooked into the sewer system that must have their septic tanks cleaned out and dumped at one of two county sites once every five years. In this part of the county, most of the homes not on public sewer are located in Oakton and Great Falls.

The septage sites are also disposal locations for waste from portable toilets (such as at concerts, fairs and special events). Restaurants must also dispose of grease at the septage sites.

The new study will take about 12 months, officials said. Here is the criteria for a new site:

  • Consultants will be looking for sites located within a short driving distance from where septage is generated.
  • Sites with proximity to existing large diameter sanitary sewer pipes with slope and capacity to adequately handle the transmission of septage.
  • Sites on appropriately sized parcels of land that are out of the floodplain and sensitive ecological areas.
  • Sites with access to a road that supports typical septage hauling vehicles.

Photo: Don’s Johns 

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