64°Partly Cloudy

Hunter Mill-Area Residents Organizing Against Septic Site

 A group of Hunter Mill-area residents is organizing against the proposed septic waste disposal site for Lake Fairfax Maintenance Area 6.

The Hunter Mill Defense League (HDML) this week sent Hunter Mill Supervisor Cathy Hudgins a petition with more than 500 signatures in opposition to relocating the septic dump from Colvin Run in Great Falls to the Lake Fairfax spot, located on Hunter Mill Road on the Reston/Vienna line.

About 21,000 homes in Fairfax County are not tied into the public sewer and must have their septic tanks cleaned out every five years and dumped in one of two county receiving facilities. The septage sites also receive waste from portable toilets and grease from restaurants.

Haulers make about 6,000 trips to the Colvin Run site annually — far too many for a narrow road like Hunter Mill to accommodate so many trucks, residents say.

“Since 1985, the Hunter Mill Road community has been unanimous in its desire to maintain development in the corridor in accordance with the established comprehensive plan,” wrote HMDL President David Bell in the letter to Hudgins.

“We have repeatedly voiced this opinion in battling proposals for high-density development at the Toll Road interchange, in the development of the Wiehle metro station, in developing traffic-calming measures and in negotiating in good faith the Special Exception permitting the Oakcrest School project,” the letter continues. “In each of these instances, the message from the community, your constituents, has remained the same — develop in accordance with the comprehensive plan.”

“Given that, many in the community are incredulous that this proposal, for what can best be described as an industrial use, has even been brought before the community by our elected and appointed leaders for consideration.

This week, county officials said all progress will be halted for six months while the county and consultants from Hazen and Sawyer consider other options.

feasibility study by Hazen and Sawyer said it would cost $3.4 million to build a new, odor-controlled, secure facility at Lake Fairfax.

Meanwhile, the Colvin Run Septage Receiving Site will be temporarily closed in June for safety reasons due to the ongoing construction of the Difficult Run Pump Station. The site will be closed for about two years, Hudgins’ office said.

Want to sign the petition or get involved? The HDML will hold a petition drive/rally at 3 p.m. Saturday at the intersection of Park Lake Drive and Lake Fairfax Drive. You can also sign online.

HMDL Letter to Catherine Hudgins Supervisor HunterMill District

Photo: One-lane bridge on Hunter Mill Road near proposed septage receiving site.


Fairfax County to Look at Sewage Dump Spots Other Than Lake Fairfax

 The project to move a septage receiving site from Great Falls to Hunter Mill Road is on hold for at least six months, Fairfax County officials said on Wednesday.

The county told residents in mid-February that the ideal location for a facility to pump septic tank waste from northern Fairfax County homes and restaurant grease from area restaurants would be Lake Fairfax Maintenance Area 6, a parcel on the Reston/Vienna line owned by the Fairfax County Park Authority.

The current septage receiving site is located on Colvin Run Road near Great Falls. That site has been operating since 1970 and has many issues, county officials said, including flooding, odor and poor accessibility for large trucks.

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 Maintenance Area 6 spot, located on Hunter Mill Road near a one-lane bridge, was a poor choice because of proximity to homes, increased traffic on a country road and environmental hazards.

The county said it had looked at six sites before deciding Lake Fairfax was the best one. The citizens told the county to go back and find a space better accessible to a main road like Route 7.

“Attendees overwhelmingly expressed dissatisfaction with the proposed relocation to Lake Fairfax Park and voiced multiple concerns including but not limited to the impact to the various communities and Hunter Mill Road, a statement from Hunter Mill Supervisor Cathy Hudgins office reads.

The memo from Hudgins’ office said the initial comment period, set to close March 18, is now being extended through April 18. Hudgins also said the county and the consultants are now extending the site search.

“DPWES and Hazen and Sawyer committed to addressing the various concerns/comments and will also extend the potential relocation search area to properties not owned by Fairfax County,” said Hudgins’ statement.

“Hazen and Sawyer is in the process of establishing a scope and schedule for responding to this commitment by the end of April, with an expanded timeframe of approximately six months.  All activity associated with the feasibility of relocating the Colvin Run Septage Receiving Site to Lake Fairfax is on hold at this time.”

A new facility would have better odor and flood controls, would be securely fenced and would have a circular driveway for pull-thorough access, county officials say.

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.

At first, county officials said the Colvin Run site could not be renovated, but a report from Hazen and Sawyer says it can, at a cheaper cost than relocating.

Meanwhile, the Colvin Run Septage Receiving Site will be temporarily closed in June for safety reasons due to the ongoing construction of the Difficult Run Pump Station. The site will be closed for about two years, Hudgins’ office said.

The existing Difficult Run pump station has been largely out of service for nearly 20 years.

Sewage haulers will use the Norman Cole site in the south part of the county near Fort Belvoir in the meantime, the county says.

Photo: Lake Fairfax Maintenance Area 6


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

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.


Feasibility Study Shows it May Be Possible to Renovate Septage Site

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 


Residents: Sewage Site Should Not Find New Home on Hunter Mill Road

Keep the poop out of the parkland and off of Hunter Mill Road.

That was the sentiment — if not the exact phrasing — of dozens of citizens who attended a community meeting with Hunter Mill Supervisor Cathy Hudgins in Reston on Thursday.

At issue is the county’s proposal to relocate a Septage Receiving Site from Colvin Run in Great Falls a few miles away to the Fairfax County Park Authority’s Maintenance Area 6, located off of Hunter Mill Road on the Reston-Vienna line.

The Colvin Run site, one of two septage receiving sites in Fairfax County, collects waste from septic tanks at homes not hooked into public sewer lines. In this part of the county, most of those homes are in Great Falls and Oakton. Overall, 21,000 Fairfax County homes do not have public sewer service, says a feasibility report on the potential move.

But that only accounts for about half the waste received, the rest is from portable restrooms at parks and public events and from grease traps at restaurants, said Eric Leinhard, a consultant with Hazen and Sawyer, an environmental engineering consulting firm hired by the county to prepare the feasibility study.

Leinhard says there are many problems with the Colvin Run site, which has been in use since 1970. Among them: it’s outdated, it smells, it floods, the pipe is too small to handle the amount of waste, it is too close to the Cross County Trail and it is in a floodplain, which is a health hazard.

But there have been no Environmental Protection Agency Complaints or other formal violations, Leinhard admits. The idea to relocate the site came from a group of Colvin Run-area citizens, who petitioned Supervisor John Foust (Dranesville) for the change.

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.

Among the sites considered: the I-66 Transfer Station; Scott’s Run and Dead Run, located  closer to Great Falls; the Tysons Pump Station; and Lake Fairfax.

Lake Fairfax, which is in a fenced maintenance area not accessible to the public, was the only one that met all the criteria, according to the study (see attachment below).

The citizens in the crowd — many of whom were visibly angry — want county officials to go back to the drawing board. They also want reassurance — which they got from Hudgins — that this is not a done deal, even though the study said the next step would be the design phase of the new location.

“You are putting a sewage dump in a neighborhood!” said Lisa Mulville, who lives in a home adjacent to the potential new site. “It’s in a park, it’s in an area that floods. There are a host of things wrong. It’s not an odor that comes from the pipe. It is a vomit-inducing stench.”

Many citizens had issues with the potential new facility’s location on Hunter Mill, which is one lane in each direction, which frequently has traffic backups and features the one-lane bridge, where motorists have to take turns crossing.

The county contends says a survey of waste haulers said they are already using Hunter Mill as a route to get to Colvin Run. An average of 22 trucks visit the Colvin Run site daily, the feasibility study said.

But the feasibility study used 2006 traffic numbers to look at the rest of the cars on Hunter Mill. Leinard said the criteria for calling Hunter Mill a major road was a speed limit of over 25 mph.

Those who drive on Hunter Mill everyday don’t agree.

“I don’t think you have been back and forth on the bridge,” one citizen said to Leinhard. “School buses get stuck. It is backed up for miles every day and we are going to have sewage trucks lining up to go over the one-lane bridge. That makes no sense!”

Said another: “This is a disaster waiting to happen to have trucks barreling over that bridge.”

Another citizen pointed out that the bridge has a 19-ton weight restriction. A fully loaded sewage tank truck weighs about 56,000 lbs. (28 tons) she said.

Other concerns from the crowd — the Lake Fairfax site is also close to recreational space and is just 200 feet uphill from a floodplain.

“I think this analysis is completely incomplete,” said one resident. “You have to go back to the drawing board.”

Officials said they would look at other possibilities, including acquiring land that is not currently owned by the county. It is accepting public comments through March 18. Email [email protected] with feedback.

Fairfax County Septage Site Feasibility Study


Subscribe to our mailing list