By the late 1960s, American became aware that the discharge of partially treated and untreated wastewaters was choking waterways throughout the nation. This prompted the passage of the Clean Water Act in 1972, which mandated the upgrading of existing treatment plants to secondary treatment levels, and empowered the Federal government to begin contributing a major portion of the cost.
Hopewell, which until then had been serviced by a wastewater treatment plant built in the 1950s faced the same Federal requirements as cities across the country. At the same time, five industries in the community, along with Fort Lee, were required to handle their own wastewater discharges. Action was critical, since the water quality of Bailey’s Creek and the James River was quickly deteriorating.
After a detailed study, it became clear that the most economical way to meet the new requirements was to unite efforts and build a 50 million gallon per day (MGD) regional secondary wastewater treatment facility that would serve the needs of both residents and industries at a cost of approximately $46 million The City of Hopewell, five area industries and Fort Lee entered into an agreement whereby the City would build a plant using grants from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the state; the industries and the Corps of Engineers would finance any remaining costs.
Construction of the Hopewell Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility (renamed Hopewell Water Renewal in 2016) began in 1975 and the plant was placed into operation in 1977 with the mission of reducing the oxygen consuming pollutants in the area’s domestic and industrial wastewaters. A unique partnership between the City and its large industrial users was developed a Hopewell Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility Commission (renamed the Hopewell Water Renewal Commission) was created and an agreement signed between the entities. This agreement sets out the fiscal responsibilities of the Commission members in paying for the operational and maintenance costs of the plant.
Today, Hopewell Water Renewal handles about 27 million gallons of wastewater a day, coming from the City of Hopewell, Fort Lee, the Federal Corrections Complex, portions of Prince George County, and four major industries – Honeywell Hopewell Plant, WestRock, Ashland, and the Virginia American Water Company.
Upgrades and changes to the original design have occurred since 1977. Funding for these upgrades and changes has been a combination of funding provided by the City and its industrial partners as well as state grants. Below is a list of the major changes:
|YEAR||CHANGE / UPGRADE||COST|
|1997||Sludge dewatering from heat treatment to centrifuges||$10 million|
|2001||Denitrification system and post aeration installed||$4.6 million|
|2012||Relocation of old City domestic plant to Hopewell Water Renewal||$24 million|
|2017||Nitrogen reduction facilities installed||$74 million|