Moores Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant

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Moores Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant
Type wastewater treatment
Owner RWSA
Built late 1950s
Capacity 15 MGD

The Moores Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant treats wastewater at a design flow of 15.0 million gallons per day (MGD) with a discharge to Moores Creek.

Construction history

The plant was built in two phases. The first section was built by the city of Charlottesville in the late 1950s and "included a grit basin, grit decanting bed, pre-aeration basins, intermediate, primary and final clarifiers, primary and secondary trickling filters, sludge drying beds, and primary and secondary digesters"[1]. This first section was completed in the spring of 1960 at a total cost of $1.1 million. The city paid for it through sale of $500,000 in bonds, a $212,000 grant from the Federal Water Pollution Control Act and $388,000 from a special reserve funded by a special tax levied since January 1954. [2]

The second phase consisted of an upgrade on the south side of Moores Creek in 1981, and "incorporated preliminary screening and grit removal, daily flow equalization, primary clarification, biological treatment, secondary clarification, chlorination and tertiary settling in flocculation and settling basins, as well as in final clarifiers." [1].

"In 1988, the aeration basins, which provide biological treatment, were retrofitted with limited modifications in an attempt to create an initial anoxic zone. Due to the fact that the anoxic zone is mixed using diffused aeration, the existing facility configuration can not reliably provide significant biological nutrient removal. Solids are thickened, anaerobically digested, and compressed through filter press equipment before disposal." [1].

Site Upgrades

In July, 2012, Moores Creek celebrated the completion of its $48 million upgrade, the first of its kind since the mid 1980s. The upgrades included installation of new technologies to maximize water treatment as well as the addition of new structures, which increase the plant's peak flow capability to 38 million gallons per day. The upgrades drastically reduce the amount of nitrogen and phosphorous that is deposited in the Chesapeake Bay, creating algal blooms.

In addition, a new Combined Heat & Power (CHP) generator was installed that can be run on the biogas created onsite, making the plant partially self-sufficient. The self-sufficiency of the plant could generate approximately $2 million in economic activity through the sale of unnecessary energy credits.[3]

Enhanced Nutrient Removal

The RWSA is under a consent order from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality to upgrade the facility to have a peak flow capacity of 45 MGD by April 30, 2013. [4] The engineering firm Hazen and Sawyer designed the expansion, and construction took place in 2010 through 2012. [5]

Enhanced nutrient removal operations began at the wastewater plant in May 2011 and have already helped the RWSA reduce the amount of nitrogren and phosphorous released into the Rivanna River. [6] Before the ENR was activated, nitrogren readings were frequently in the 10 to 15 parts per million range. In August 2011, the average was 2.90 ppm. [6]

Adams Robinson has invoiced $48.8 million for the project and completed the project ahead of schedule. [7]

Odor control


In the mid 2000's, Woolen Mills resident Bill Emory began to raise the question of the odor that emanated from wastewater basins that were open to the air. In Febrary of 2006, he told the RWSA Board that the odors had both financial and health impacts on his neighborhood. [8] In March, the RWSA held a listening session to hear from concerned residents and city officials. [9]

The firm Hazen & Sawyer was hired to present a series of recommendations on how the task could be complete. In March 2008, the RWSA Board voted to take three steps. One would design and build a facility to collect septage from private haulers. Existing ponds and basins would be scrubbed as the Nutrient Removal project proceeded. A survey was to be conducted soon after to see if these steps would suffice. [10]

The projects were not enough to satisfy concerns. In late December 2012, the RWSA considered further measures as well as the removal of the Rivanna Pump Station out of Woolen Mills. [11]

In September 2013, some members of City Council wanted $3.5 million in funds that had been set aside to dredge the South Fork Rivanna River to be transferred to odor control projects. [12] A month later, a member of the ASCA Board of Directors expressed skepticism. [13]

The RWSA discussed the matter further in December 2013. They agreed to take further samples of the air to determine how to proceed. [14]

The RWSA Board got an overview of work on odor control to date at their meeting in July 2016.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 DEQ Project Site for Moores Creek
  2. Print: City To Sell $500,000 Sewer Bonds, Staff Reports, Daily Progress, Lindsay family February 2, 1960, Page .
  3. Web. Water authority celebrates completed upgrades and environmental dividends, Ian M. Lamb, Charlottesville Tomorrow, July 10, 2012, retrieved July 16, 2011.
  4. Web. Report on Ongoing Projects, Thomas Frederick, RWSA Executive Director, Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority, July 26, 2011, retrieved July 22, 2011.
  5. 6.0 6.1 Web. Executive Director's Report, Thomas L. Frederick, Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority, retrieved September 23, 2011.
  6. Web. STATUS REPORT: ON-GOING PROJECTS, Thomas L. Frederick, Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority, retrieved June 25, 2012.
  7. Web. excremental, Bill Emory, Blog post, Bill Emory, March 15, 2006, retrieved November 15, 2021.
  8. Web. Smelly Town: Woolen Mills residents speak out at recent Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority meeting, Dan Daniels, Podcast, Charlottesville Podcasting Network, March 21, 2006, retrieved November 15, 2021.
  9. Web. RWSA board votes to approve wastewater odor control measures, Sean Tubbs, News Article, Charlottesville Tomorrow, March 25, 2008, retrieved November 15, 2021.
  10. Web. Cost-share for RWSA sewer projects still not determined, Sean Tubbs, News Article, Charlottesville Tomorrow, December 20, 2012, retrieved November 15, 2021.
  11. Web. Council wants dredging money transferred to odor-control projects, Sean Tubbs, News Article, Charlottesville Tomorrow, September 19, 2013, retrieved November 15, 2021.
  12. Web. Albemarle water authority skeptical of expenditures on odor control, Sean Tubbs, News Article, Charlottesville Tomorrow, October 18, 2013, retrieved November 15, 2021.
  13. Web. Cost sharing agreement on sewer projects stymies local officials, brian Wheeler, News Article, Charlottesville Tomorrow, December 17, 2013, retrieved November 15, 2021.

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