RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – Changes are coming to Virginia to fight flooding and make sure you have clean drinking water. On Friday, the head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Michael Regan toured the Shockoe Bottom basin while touting the new Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
“The Commonwealth of Virginia will receive $126 million of infrastructure funding this year in 2022,” Regan said.
It’s no secret that Richmond’s aging infrastructure needs upgrades. Severe, sometimes deadly flooding can be seen any time there’s a significant amount of rain or snow.
“When it rains and when it snows, these systems just can’t keep up,” Regan said at the Shockoe Basin. The basin holds millions of gallons of combined stormwater and wastewater during severe weather and has seen improvements over the last several years.
On Thursday, Congressman Donald McEachin said the projects will not only create thousands of jobs, but “we will be able to rebuild the commonwealth’s water infrastructure, mitigate sewer overflows, curb flooding, protect our public waterways, and ensure that all Virginians have access to clean drinking water.”
City officials told 8News they don’t know how much of the funding RVA will get. However, there’s no way it will be enough, according to Richmond’s Department of Public Utilities (DPU) head April Bingham. The city has to make $1.3 billion worth of improvements by 2035 to comply with state law.
According to DPU officials, RVA only has $300 million set aside for the projects, leaving the city $1 billion short.
“Without financial assistance from the federal and state government, Richmond’s wastewater utility rates will skyrocket,” Bingham said. Utility rates would likely triple over the next several years, according to her. She said for a family of four, that would make it more expensive to pay a sewage bill than it would be to feed the family.