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Chesterfield County receives FEMA grant to construct a flood wall at the Addison-Evans Water Treatment Plant
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Chesterfield County receives FEMA grant to construct a flood wall at the Addison-Evans Water Treatment Plant

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After being pummeled in August 2020 by roughly 16 feet of floodwater that forced an eight-month closure, the Addison-Evans Water Treatment Plant is receiving a floodwall.

Chesterfield County officials in November 2018 identified the need for a floodwall — a vertical barrier designed to temporarily contain water from waterways during extreme weather events — for the treatment plant, which supplies nearly 20% of all county water for residential and commercial consumption.

The treatment plant is located downstream from the Swift Creek Reservoir, which makes it prone to flooding.

To pay for a floodwall, the county applied for a pre-disaster mitigation grant and has worked closely with the Virginia Department of Emergency Management to see the grant application process through to completion these past three years.

The application package included a history of flooding at the facility and a determination of any environmental impacts. No significant impacts to the environment were identified, said George Hayes, Chesterfield’s utilities director.

The VDEM this week awarded Chesterfield $8.6 million, and the county will pick up the remaining $2.9 million of the project’s cost.

The state emergency management department hands out the federal funds on the behalf of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The state gave out a total of nearly $20 million in FEMA hazard mitigation assistance grants earlier this week.

“We continue to see the development of innovative projects to protect public infrastructure, as well as projects that focus on protecting vulnerable populations, and promote economic development,” said State Coordinator of Emergency Management Curtis Brown in a statement.

Hayes in an interview credited his staff with securing a nationally competitive grant.

In August 2020, heavy rains dumped roughly 10 inches of water in some parts of the county in less than 24 hours.

The extreme flooding compromised two of the county’s water sources, which prompted county officials to turn them off and declare a local emergency.

One of those facilities, the Addison-Evans Water Treatment Plant, a 12 million gallon-per-day potable water treatment plant built in 1967, was closed until April of this year. The plant serves about 67,000 residents.

The flooding was the worst the facility had seen in its existence, Hayes said, with about 16 feet of standing water in portions of the site.

Richmond’s Jahnke Road pump station, which supplies approximately 21 million gallons of water to the county, was turned off for about a week after the August 2020 flood.

At the time, county officials said it would take weeks or months for Addison-Evans to be back up and running. It ended up taking eight months. In the interim, county customers were transferred elsewhere to receive water.

During the eight months, improvements were made to the plant, Hayes said, including equipment upgrades.

Next steps for the floodwall project include moving ahead with the design process, which will take about a year, followed by two years of permitting and construction, Hayes said. While the wall’s height will fluctuate based on the topography of the land, the highest area of the wall is slated to be 18.5 feet tall, he said.

Hayes said the county is set to hold public meetings concerning the floodwall’s design plan. The county anticipates the project to be completed by 2025.

jnocera@timesdispatch.com

Twitter: @jessmnocera

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