Bay Journal

Topics: Local Government

Lynchburg takes new tack on decades-old overflow problems

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Like hundreds of cities in the country, Lynchburg’s earliest sewer infrastructure was built to get the water — and whatever else might be flushed or flowing into it — out of the Virginia city and into the nearest stream or river as quickly as possible.

In 1955, the city added a wastewater treatment plant that greatly reduced the amount of raw sewage flowing into the nearby James River. But, like many wastewater treatment systems of that era, it captured both sewage and stormwater and therefore could easily be overwhelmed by heavy rains. To prevent sewage backups, the system was designed to divert the wet-weather overflows directly to the river. This has come to be known as a combined sewer overflow system.

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Managing the Chesapeake Bay requires sound policies at the local level that reduce pollution and protect ecosystems within its 64,000-square-mile watershed. Ultimately, the success of efforts to protect the region’s environment requires support from local governments.

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