Governor Terry McAuliffe joined officials from the city of Hopewell and other partners today to break ground for an innovative project that will significantly improve water quality in the James River, and ultimately the Chesapeake Bay.
The $76.3 million project – an upgrade to the Hopewell region’s wastewater treatment system – will result in a meaningful reduction in the amount of nutrient pollution entering the James. The improved nutrient removal system will reduce nitrogen, one of the key pollutants affecting the Bay and its rivers, by 575,000 pounds per year.
Speaking about the enhanced facility, Governor McAuliffe said, “This project is a fantastic example of how Virginia businesses and industries can work in partnership with localities to improve the quality of our water. Hopewell has been able to attract industrial growth and expansion because of this regional facility, and this new project will ensure a tremendous positive impact on the local and regional economy.”
Secretary of Natural Resources Molly Ward said of the project, “We are pleased that the improvements to the Hopewell facility will have such a huge impact on our nutrient reduction efforts in Virginia. This project represents important state and local cooperation, as well as public/private partnerships, that will help us achieve our environmental improvement goals.”
“Projects like these that enable our localities to sustain high quality infrastructure are essential for the continued growth and prosperity of our communities,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones. “Having best-in-class infrastructure is a critical component of community and economic development.”
As a major contributor of nitrogen to the James River, the Hopewell wastewater facility has conducted studies for almost 20 years to determine the most economical and technologically feasible method to remove nutrients from its wastewater and to meet nitrogen permit limits. Because of the unique wastewater characteristics, conventional methods of treatment were not feasible and new methods needed to be explored.
The result is a system that separates some of the industrial wastewater that enters the plant to enable more efficient nitrogen removal. The sources of the wastewater include Honeywell, RockTenn, Virginia American Water Co., Evonik Goldschmidt, and Ashland Inc. The remaining flow comes from Fort Lee, Prince George County and Hopewell.
About two-thirds of the funding for the project comes from the Virginia Water Quality Improvement Fund, which is administered by the Department of Environmental Quality. The $49.1 million grant is one of the largest grants issued by the fund since its inception in 1997. The rest of the financing is being provided by the city, the industries that use the plant, and a loan from the Virginia Resources Authority.