The fundamental challenge with the wastewater system that serves 60 percent of Richmond residents is that some old sewer mains are too small to handle flows in heavy rains, and cracks and joints in old pipes, many in private laterals, admit ground water (“inflow and infiltration”). Despite spending tens of millions of dollars on the system in recent years, the collection system is clearly inadequate in certain areas to handle surges during wet weather.
This has sometimes been used by NIMBYs as an argument against new construction, but that is a red herring. The treatment plant, including a new wet weather storage facility has capacity, and new sewer laterals are typically not sources of inflow and infiltration. It is some of the older mains that are the problem.
The RPA majority that controls the City Council has never understood the fundamental problem with the wastewater system or been willing to adopt a level of sewer fees necessary to fund necessary upgrades. Instead, they have focused on villainizing Veolia, the contract operator of the system. They City is responsible for funding capital improvements, not Veolia.