Virginia CZM Program: 2014 Coastal Grant Project Description and Final Summary

Project Task:



VA Dept. 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 de-chlorination 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 to achieve nitrogen removal that are being implemented in five construction contracts.  Contracts 1-4 have been completed. Contract 5 is ongoing and can be are described as follows.

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:

Match to Virginia CZM Program grant - $943,322

Project Contact:

Walter Gills, 804.698.4133;

Project Status:

10/1/14 - 9/30/15; Project Closed

Final Product Received:

Final Project Summary serves as Final Product.

Project Description Provided by Grantee:

This project (WQIF Agreement #440-S-09-02; $50,131,031 grant) involved  upgrading Richmond’s existing 45 MGD wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) with enhanced nutrient reduction technology (NRT).  $943,322 of this WQIF grant was used as State match for Virginia’s Coastal Zone Management Program in Fiscal Year 2014.

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 calendar year 2014:

• 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 = 6.54 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 calendar year 2014:

• TP WLA = 68,525 lbs/yr;  TP load from 1/1/14-12/31/14 = 48,100 lbs/yr

• TN WLA = 1,096,402 lbs/yr; TN load from 1/1/14-12/31/14 = 862,268 lbs/yr

The completed WWTP upgrade will significantly improve the nutrient reduction efforts in the James River 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 is completed.  Construction began in December 2008.  To-date, $47,858,838 of the $50,131,031 grant has been paid to the City. Between October 1, 2014 and September 30, 2015, reimbursements totaling $3,284,960 have been made to the City for this project, which exceeds the $943,322 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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