FRONT ROYAL - Despite the May completion of a $45 million wastewater treatment facility upgrade, the town hopes to avoid a $20 million state-mandated phase two.

Timmy Fristoe, wastewater treatment plant manager, told council members that the plant’s average November daily flow was 8 million gallons compared to its 5.3 million gallon capacity.

Robert Boyle, Public Works manager, said over the phone that if that trend continues for two more consecutive months, the Virginia Department of Environmental Equality will force the town begin planning phase two.

The phase two design would cost between an estimated $2 million and $3 million while construction would cost an estimated $18 million. 

Fristoe said that phase two would include increasing the plant’s capacity and installation of an effluent line, pumping station and a 3.75 million gallon storage container for “high flow events.”

According to previous reports, the upgrade completed earlier this year decreased the discharge of unwanted chemicals. After county contributions and grant funds, the town paid for $29 million for the upgrades through an interest-free 20 year Department of Environmental Quality loan. 

Boyle explained that phase two additions were all items left out of phase one to save $15 million.

“I didn’t hide this, this is all stuff that got shoved back,” Fristoe said.

He added that if the town reduces infiltration and inflow - water that enters cracked pipes - the town could avoid the phase two.

Councilman Eugene Tewalt said overseeing infiltration and inflow rehabilitation will be a major undertaking because part of the issue is bad clay pipes were installed the 1940s and 1950s. He added it would be expensive for the town and property owners but “it is the only way to go.” Even with an upgrade, he said bad pipes will remain an issue.

Fristoe agreed and said “repairing and maintaining this infrastructure will save money in costly plant upgrades and keep the wastewater treatment plant operating effectively and in a cost-effective manner,” he said.

Boyle said the town has spent about $500,000 in the past year curbing infiltration issues and the department will have several upcoming requests for more repairs. He added that he does not know how much it would cost to avoid phase two.

Town Manager Joe Waltz said that in 2012 a DEQ consent order required the town to study the infiltration issue and officials meet with DEQ representatives quarterly to discuss the matter. He added that he intends to continue tackling infiltration issues to avoid phase two, but he brought it to the council because “the wet season that we have had this year has put us to that borderline of possibly triggering phase two.”

He added that in a future work session, exact figures and details regarding how the town is attacking infiltration and inflow will be discussed.

Contact Josh Gully at jgully@nvdaily.com