Rappahannock Friends and Lovers of Our Watershed

Friends of the Rush River Question the Town of Washington Sewage Plan

By Beverly Hunter

On Saturday February 4, thirty people met at the Rappahannock County Library to discuss their concerns about the draft permit for the Town of Washington to discharge effluent from their planned sewage treatment plant to the Rush River. The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) will hold a public hearing regarding the draft permit sometime in March, so stakeholders want to inform themselves to prepare for the public process. Participants included a dozen Rush River land owners, a few residents of Washington, the Chair of the Rappahannock County Park Association (the county park is on the Rush River just below the proposed discharge site), Gene Leggett, Mayor of Washington, Claudia Mitchell of the Town Council, several members of the Rappahannock League for Environmental Protection, and people who are active in (but not speaking on behalf of at this meeting) several local organizations including the Rappahannock County Conservation Alliance, Rappahannock Friends and Lovers of Our Watershed, the Rappahannock Nonprofit Support Center, Culpeper Soil & Water Conservation District, the County Water Quality Advisory Committee, Piedmont Environmental Council. Elizabeth Haskell, a Rush River landowner and key organizer of the meeting, chaired the discussion.

The main questions asked and issues raised in this meeting included what alternative approaches the town had considered before deciding on a system that would discharge effluent into the Rush River; nature and extent of the septic system failures problem in the Town; adequacy of the draft permit from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to protect the stream for use by land owners and recreational users of the River; history of the Sperryville Sewage Treatment Plant; the low flow levels and impaired status of the Rush River; adequacy of the past, present and future monitoring of the quality and flow of the River; and roles of the County government in this plan. Leggett and Mitchell, representing the Town Council, patiently and politely answered many questions about the planned sewage treatment system as they reminded the participants that the Town has been discussing the sewage problem and various solutions over a period of years.

Several participants agreed to speak on these matters at the Public Comment period of Monday’s Board of Supervisor’s Meeting. Some volunteered to participate in stream monitoring activities coordinated by RappFLOW. For more information, contact one of the following:

Elizabeth Haskell 675-1769
Monira Rifaat 987-8613
Beverly Hunter 937-4038
Paul Farmer 987-8759