Washington Mayor Eugene Leggett (with a giant scissors town officials found on eBay for the occasion) cuts the ribbon at a ceremony Friday marking the official opening of the town’s wastewater treatment plant and sewer system. The ceremony was attended by some 60 well-wishers, including representatives of the state Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), state Del. Todd Gilbert’s office, Rappahannock County (two supervisors and county administrator John McCarthy), RappFLOW (Beverly Hunter) and several former town officials – who first began the 15-year, ultimately $4 million effort to solve an environmental crisis looming as the town’s 300-year-old drainfields began to fail permanently at the turn of the century.
Plant operations manager Don Hearl (in red shirt, explaining the workings of the pump station) and town councilman Gary Schwartz took the group on tours of the indoor and outdoor facilities, which Hearl reported later were outputting effluent into the Rush River that included nitrogen and phosphorous levels at one-sixth what the state will allow, and e-coli levels that were barely detectible. About 40 of the town’s hookups had been completed by Friday, the rest to be finished within the month.