Virginia CZM Program: 2012 Coastal Grant Project Description and Final Summary

Project Task:VA CZM logo


VA Department of Environmental Quality-Clean Water Financing and Assistance
Program (WQIF) 

Project Title:

Water Quality Improvement Fund (WQIF) Match- City of Richmond Wastewater Treatment Plant Nutrient Removal Upgrade 

Project Description as Proposed:

The City of Richmond owns and operates a Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) with an existing dry weather flow (DWF) design capacity of 45 million gallons per day (MGD).  The City also operates a Combined Sewer System (CSS) consisting of sewers that carry sanitary sewage and storm water runoff in a single pipe. The City’s individual VPDES permit requires the WWTP to treat wet weather flows of at least 75 MGD until all CSS storage facilities are emptied. The existing WWTP liquid processes includes preliminary treatment, primary clarification, biological activated sludge process, secondary clarification, deep bed/gravity effluent filtration, disinfection and dechlorination prior to discharge to the James River. Solids handling processes include separate thickening of primary and waste activated solids, digestion, and dewatering prior to land application.

The City’s preliminary engineering report identifies improvements, which will be implemented in five construction contracts.  The improvements, respective to each contract, are described as follows.

Contract 1:
Total Phosphorus Control: Chemical storage and new feed pumps will be installed to dose ferric chloride in the primary and secondary sedimentation tanks. 
Methanol Feed and Storage: The existing filters will be upgraded to denitrification filters, which includes methanol storage tanks, chemical metering pumps, and controls.
Filter Upgrades:  The existing filters will be upgraded to reliably remove particulate phosphorus and nitrogen to meet the new permit limitations of the general permit. 

Contract 2:
UV Disinfection: The existing chlorination facilities will be replaced with UV disinfection.
Main Plant Incoming 13.2 kV Switchgear: The existing switchgear and portions of the electrical distribution system will be replaced.  Based on present concerns for electrical safety, the new switchgear will be installed within a building instead of an outdoor walk-in enclosure. 

Contract 3:
Scum Control Upgrades
: The existing primary sedimentation tanks will be upgraded with new troughs and electrically actuated gates to improve control of scum in the activated sludge process. Scum will be conveyed to a new scum concentrator building.

Contract 4:
Aeration Upgrades: The aeration tanks will be upgraded and improved to operate as a Step Feed process.  Improvements to the aeration tanks include new internal mixed liquor recycle pumps and baffles, as well as an upgrade of gates and the fine bubble diffuser system.   
Return Activated Sludge (RAS) Capacity Upgrades: RAS pumping will be increased from an existing capacity of 45 MGD to about 60 MGD; thereby, reducing the solids carryover to the effluent filters during wet-weather flows.
Bioaugmentation Upgrades: The existing sludge holding tanks will be upgraded to accommodate the bioaugmentation process and facilitate restarting the activated sludge system and shorten the period to recover nitrification. 

Contract 5:
Final Sedimentation Tanks: Two new sedimentation tanks (nominal capacity of 90 MGD) are proposed to improve the solid capture efficiency and reduce the solids loading to the effluent filters.
Fermentation: One existing digester will be converted to a fermentation reactor to produce volatile fatty acids (VFA) from primary sludge. The VFA will be returned to the anoxic zone to improve the efficiency of the denitrification in the aeration tanks and lessen the dependency on methanol. The upgrades include odor control, transfer pumps, and electrical/instrumentation 

Federal Funding:

No Federal Funding; Match Only: $894,051 

Project Contact:

Walter Gills; 804.698.4133,

Project Status:

10/1/2012 - 9/30/2013; Project Completed 

Final Product Received:

Final Project Summary serves as Final Product.  

Project Summary Provided by Grantee:

This project (WQIF Agreement #440-S-09-02; $50,131,031 grant) involves upgrading Richmond’s existing 45 MGD wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) with enhanced nutrient reduction technology (NRT).  $894,051 of this WQIF grant was used as State match for Virginia’s Coastal Zone Management Program in Grant Year 2013.
The Richmond WWTP is located in the tidal-fresh James River basin.  As a “significant discharger”, this plant must comply with total nitrogen and total phosphorus waste load allocations as required in two State Regulations: (1) Water Quality Management Planning Regulation (9 VAC 25-720); (2) Chesapeake Bay Watershed General Permit Regulation (9 VAC 25-820). DEQ reviewed the discharge performance for all significant nutrient dischargers in the Bay watershed. The following summarizes the performance of the City’s WWTP during the term of the CZM grant (10/1/12-9/30/13):
• Average Total Phosphorus (TP) concentration = 0.35 mg/l (the value associated with their waste load allocation is 0.50 mg/l)
• Average total nitrogen (TN) concentration = 5.2 mg/l (the value associated with their waste load allocation is 8.0 mg/l)

The compliance period for the nutrient allocations began 1/1/11, and limits this facility’s discharged loads to 1,096,402 lbs/yr nitrogen and 68,525 lbs/yr phosphorus.  The retrofitted facility will reduce the existing nitrogen load by about 829,150 lbs/yr and the phosphorus load by about 6,850 lbs/yr at full design flow. Following are the allowable annual discharge load limits (“Waste Load Allocation” = WLA) and the actual discharged loads during the term of the CZM grant (10/1/12-9/30/13):
• TP WLA = 68,525 lbs/yr;  TP load from 10/1/12-9/30/13 = 58,784 lbs/yr
• TN WLA = 1,096,402 lbs/yr; TN load from 10/1/12-9/30/13 = 844,392 lbs/yr

The completed WWTP upgrade will significantly improve the nutrient reduction efforts in the James Basin.
The NRT retrofit involves chemical addition for phosphorus and nitrogen control, aeration and bioaugmentation upgrades, new settling tanks, addition of a fermentation reactor, upgrade of existing effluent filters, electrical improvements, and solids handling/processing improvements.

Construction of the City of Richmond’s wastewater treatment plant upgrade with enhanced nutrient removal technology continues.  Construction began in December 2008 and is scheduled for completion by July, 2015.  To-date, $40,747,860 of the $50,131,031 grant has been paid to the City. Between October 1, 2012 and September 30, 2013, reimbursements totaling $15,106,459 have been made to the City for this project, which exceeds the $894,051 in State General Funds needed to provide a match for the Coastal Zone Management Program. 

Disclaimer: This project summary provides the federal dollars initially awarded to the grantee. Due to underexpenditure or reprogramming of grant funds, this figure may change. For more information on the allocation of coastal grant funds, please contact Laura McKay, Virginia Coastal Program Manager, at 804.698.4323 or email:

A more detailed Scope of Work for this project is available. Please direct your request for a copy to

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Virginia Department of
Environmental Quality
P.O. Box 1105
Richmond, VA 23218
(804) 698-4000

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