Wednesday, July 28, 2021


Jamie Brunkow
Riverkeeper and Senior Advocacy Manager
(757) 634-4541

American Rescue Plan Investments Provide Pivotal Opportunity to Reduce Pollution and Address Combined Sewer Overflows

Governor Northam has announced that Virginia plans to allocate $411.5 million in federal American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding toward improvements to water infrastructure and water quality across the Commonwealth. The proposal includes investments of $186.5 million to upgrade wastewater treatment facilities, $100 million to improve septic systems in small or underserved communities, and $125 million for projects to address combined sewer overflows in Richmond, Lynchburg and Alexandria. These investments target enhancements to wastewater treatment technology and equitable access to clean water in Virginia’s urban and rural localities.

“The substantial allocation of ARP funds to Virginia’s critical water infrastructure demonstrates Governor Northam’s commitment to reducing pollution and restoring our rivers,” said Bill Street, Chief Executive Officer of the James River Association.

Of the $125 million allocated to combined sewer system (CSS) projects, the Governor’s proposal sets aside $50 million for Richmond, $50 million for Alexandria, and $25 million for Lynchburg. The City of Richmond is home to the largest combined sewer system in the state, which the City estimates will require $883 million to fully address. 23.2% of Richmond’s population is living below the poverty line, and residents already face some of the highest wastewater rates in the Commonwealth.

“Richmond faces the largest uphill battle to curb pollution from a combined sewer system that is more than a century old,” said Street. “We urge the General Assembly to consider the needs and challenges of each CSS community in making its final funding allocations to protect public access to clean water.”

ABOUT THE JAMES RIVER ASSOCIATION: The James River Association is a member-supported nonprofit organization founded in 1976 to serve as a guardian and voice for the James River. Throughout the James River’s 10,000-square mile watershed, the James River Association works toward its vision of a fully healthy James River supporting thriving communities. The James River Association believes that “when you change the James, the James changes you”. With offices in Lynchburg, Richmond, Williamsburg, and Scottsville, the James River Association is committed to protecting the James River and connecting people to it. For more information visit