Bay Journal

Topics: Pollution

Hampton Roads treating wastewater till it’s good enough to return to aquifer

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Little more than a day before, the water pouring from a tap outside the York River Treatment Plant had been wastewater: a mix of sewage flushed down toilets, soapy water drained from bathtubs, food wastes washed down the sink and industrial waste piped into sewer lines.

Now, the water coming out the silver spigot was crystal clear, filling a clean glass that said “SWIFT” on its side.

And it tasted like, well, water.

Despite its checkered past, the water was good enough to drink —maybe too good, according to officials from the Hampton Roads Sanitation District, which operates the York River plant and a dozen others in southeastern Virginia. Instead of just treating wastewater and discharging it into the river as they’ve done for decades, district officials say they’ve now produced a valuable resource that can solve multiple problems facing the region.

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PA farm pollution affecting drinking water

In 1945, engineers tasked with bringing clean drinking water to suburban Philadelphia discovered Octoraro Creek nestled in Amish farm country around 40 miles away and deemed it ideal to build the water treatment plant of the future. But...


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About Pollution

Nutrient pollution, the nitrogen and phosphorus that originates from farms, wastewater treatment plants, stormwater runoff and air pollution, is a major source of pollution to the Chesapeake. In the Bay, they spur growth of algae blooms which block sunlight needed by important underwater grass beds. When the algae dies, they are decomposed in a process that depletes the water of oxygen needed by other species.

Sediment eroded from the land and streambanks degrades stream health and reduces water clarity. Toxins and other chemical contaminants also pose a direct threat to fish throughout the Bay and its watershed.

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