Sanitary Infrastructure

The Sanitary Infrastructure Division implements the City’s Sanitary Sewer Master Plan and is responsible for planning level engineering related to sanitary sewer capital projects throughout the City.

Page updated on Nov 5, 2021 at 12:51 AM

The Sanitary Infrastructure Division is Responsible for the Following:

  • Planning level engineering encompassing over 240 miles of sanitary and combined sewer within the City
  • Development and implementation of the City’s 10-year Sanitary Sewer Capital Improvement Program
  • Coordination with the City’s Department of Project Implementation related to design and construction of sanitary sewer capital projects
  • Coordination with Alexandria Renew Enterprises on the RiverRenew Program for the combined sewer system
  • Review of development and redevelopment plans in order to ensure adequate sewer capacity to accommodate growth and identify when upgrades to sewer infrastructure are required to serve new development
  • Ensuring that development projects located within the CSS comply with the City’s CSS Management Policy for development/redevelopment

RiverRenew Program for the Combined Sewer System

River ReNew Logo The City’s combined sewer system dates back to the 1800s and comprises approximately 540 acres located in the Old Town area. During most wet weather events, combined sewage (mixture of wastewater and stormwater runoff) discharges through one of four combined sewer outfalls into receiving waterways. In April 2017, the Virginia General Assembly passed a new law requiring the remediation of these outfalls by July 1, 2025. The City, working with Alexandria Renew Enterprises (AlexRenew), submitted a Long Term Control Plan (Plan) to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VDEQ) in 2018. This Plan calls for the construction of an underground tunnel system to bring combined sewage to the AlexRenew wastewater treatment facility, thus significantly reducing both the number and volume of combined sewer discharges into City waterways. As of July 1, 2018, VDEQ has approved the Plan and the City has transferred ownership of the combined sewer outfalls to AlexRenew. AlexRenew is implementing the Plan as part of its RiverRenew Program.

With construction set to begin at the four combined sewer outfalls later this year, AlexRenew is conducting Community Listening Sessions to share the most up-to-date information about RiverRenew. For more information regarding the Community Listening Sessions, please click here.

To find out more information about the RiverRenew program, please click here.

City Council–AlexRenew Board Combined Sewer Project Workgroup

Joint  webbox 2 sewerIn order to facilitate partnership between the City and AlexRenew and to provide a liaison for input and feedback, on June 26, 2018, City Council passed a resolution to establish the City Council–AlexRenew Board Combined Sewer Project Workgroup. The workgroup includes two members of City Council, appointed by the Mayor, and two members of the AlexRenew Board. The purpose of the workgroup is to review and guide the plans, design, implementation, costs and financing of the CSO construction project with the intent of minimizing community impacts and maximizing community benefits. The next workgroup meeting will be held on Thursday, September 23, 2021 from 5:00 to 7:00 PM and will be held virtually. For more details about the next workgroup meeting, please click here.

Read more about the City Council–AlexRenew Board Combined Sewer Project Workgroup.

RiverRenew Stakeholder Advisory Group 

Established on September 22nd City Council Legislative Hearing, Resolution 21-0163 was unanimously passed, establishing a new Stakeholder Advisory Group (SAG) for RiverRenew. Building off the foundation from previous SAGs, this group will monitor construction progress on the Tunnel System Project, the largest infrastructure project in Alexandria's history.

The next Stakeholder Advisory Group meeting will be held on Thursday, November 18, 2021 at 7 PM. The meeting will be held virtually and more information can be found here.

Read more about the RiverRenew Stakeholder Advisory Group.

Sanitary Sewer Asset Renewal Program

The City is implementing a Sanitary Sewer Asset Renewal Program, which will provide for the inspection and rehabilitation of all City sanitary sewers, manholes, and City-owned portions of lateral sewers. A total of $33 million has been programmed over the next 10 years as part of the City's Sanitary Sewer Capital Improvement Program. Inspections will begin in early 2021 and will include sanitary sewers generally bounded by Commonwealth Avenue, Four Mile Run, Route 1, and the Metro rail lines. Sewers and manholes that are found to either be structurally deficient will be rehabilitated, with a rehabilitation program scheduled for 2022. This program will help to preserve and protect existing City-owned sewer infrastructure, extend its useful life, and protect against pipe collapses and other emergency repairs. In addition, this project will help to reduce the amount of infiltration and inflow (I&I) into the sanitary sewer system. Excessive amounts of I&I can result in sanitary sewer back-ups into homes and businesses.

The Sanitary Sewer Asset Renewal Program builds on a prior 20-year program the City has implemented to rehabilitate its infrastructure. To date, the City has spent approximately $30 million through rehabilitating over 60 miles of sanitary sewer and repairing close to 3,200 manholes.

For more information about the inspections to be completed in 2021, click here.

Or for answers to Frequently Asked Questions, click Here

For information about the Sanitary Sewer Asset Renewal Program, contact Erin Bevis-Carver at 703.746.4154.

Old Town Sewer Assessment and Rehabilitation Program

This project provides for the condition assessment of all sewers in the Old Town area (including the combined sewer area) of the City and remediation of structurally deficient sewers and sewer structures. This project will be completed in several phases. The first phase will begin in March 2019 and will consist of physical inspections of all manholes and inlets in the Old Town area. This phase of the project is anticipated to last approximately 12-18 months. The second phase begins in March 2020 and will include inspection of all sewers in the northern half of the Old Town area. Temporary no parking signs will be posted in work areas where access to these structures are needed to complete the inspection.

Read more about the Old Town Sewer Assessment and Rehabilitation Program or contact Lu Zhang at 703.746.4289.

Sanitary Sewer Master Plan

SSMPThe City has finalized the update to the Sanitary Sewer Master Plan to provide the City residents with information about its sanitary sewer assets, existing infrastructure needs and future needs to accommodate future growth. The plan also details the City’s strategy for reducing the potential for sanitary sewer backups that can occur because of extreme wet weather and flooding events. Finally, the plan provides a review of its sanitary sewer fees and offers recommendations for any fee changes.

The City held a virtual public meeting on Thursday September 30, 2021 at 7pm to share key technical findings and plan recommendations, along with answering questions about the plan and soliciting feedback.

A copy of the public meeting's presentation for Thursday September 30, 2021 can be found here

A recording of the meeting can be viewed here.

A copy of the Q&A can be found here

Following the public meeting, staff will be bringing the plan to Planning Commission and City Council for public hearing and consideration for adoption of the plan as a chapter of the City’s Master Plan. It is anticipated that staff will be bringing the plan to Planning Commission and City Council in November 2021.

For questions about the plan or to provide feedback, please contact Erin Bevis-Carver, Acting Division Chief, Sanitary Infrastructure Division at 703.746.4154 or

This Sanitary Sewer Master Plan serves as an update to the plan that was adopted in February 2013.

Read more about the Sanitary Sewer Master Plan.

Sanitary Sewer Geographical Information System (GIS)

sewers box6There are over 240 miles of sanitary and combined sewers located within the City. Information about these sewers are available to the public on the City’s GIS Sewer Viewer.

The Sewer Viewer displays the sewer network, and includes information such as pipe diameters, flow directions and manholes.

Fats, Oils and Grease (FOG) Program

The City has developed a Fats, Oils and Grease (FOG) program to reduce the amount of FOG introduced into the sanitary sewer system, which can lead to sewer back-ups and sanitary sewer overflows into the environment. This program was initiated in 2019 and included outreach to food service establishments (FSEs) on how to best control FOG from entering the sewer system due to cooking and other food preparation activities.

As part of the City’s program aimed at reducing FOG into the sanitary sewer system, the City amended the City Code by including a new section (Subdivision D of City Code Title 5, Chapter 6, Division 3.1 – Pretreatment of Wastewater) to provide FOG requirements for owners of FSEs. Although the discharge of FOG was already prohibited in the City Code, the new section provides additional clarification on FSE requirements, City’s authority to inspect FSEs for FOG, compliance schedules, and penalties for non-compliance.

For any questions about the ordinance, please contact Suzanne Salva at 703.746.4059.

FOG Frequently Asked Questions

What is FOG and where does it come from?
A: FOG (Fats, Oils and Grease) are by-products generated from food preparation and cooking; including liquid and solid cooking oil, meat fat, shortening, sauces and dairy products.

Why is FOG a problem?
A: FOG in sewers can cause blockages in the sanitary sewer collection system and cause sewer backups and overflows.

What can FSEs do to prevent FOG from entering sewers?
A: Installation of grease recovery devices including grease traps and interceptors, using best management practices of scraping food wastes into the trash, regular maintenance of grease recovery devices and training kitchen staff.

Why is the City updating its ordinance related to FOG?
A: A new section (Subdivision D of City Code Title 5, Chapter 6, Division 3.1 – Pretreatment of Wastewater) specifically addresses FOG for both new and existing food service establishments. The updated section clarifies FOG management requirements, clarifies the City’s authority to inspect for FOG, provides minimum maintenance and record keeping requirements; provides a compliance schedule and clarifies civil penalties.

Will my food service establishment be inspected?
A: FOG inspection of food service establishments is currently on hold due to COVID-19. Inspections will not resume until the risk of COVID-19 is low. Inspections will continue to focus on education.

How can I get in compliance?
A: The City FOG inspector will provide guidelines for getting in compliance and reducing or eliminating FOG from entering the plumbing. City FOG inspector will check if food service establishments have proper grease control devices and are using and maintaining them correctly. Facilities that do not have grease control devices will be required to install them. Inspectors will also check that establishments have procedures for handling FOG and cleaning grease control devices.

What if I don’t get in compliance?
A: Establishments that fail to comply with FOG management policies and continue to discharge FOG to the City sewers may be required to install additional grease-removal equipment or be fined.

What Can You Do to Help Protect the Sewer System?

We can all make a difference in helping to protect the sewer system. Sanitary sewer systems and wastewater treatment facilities are designed to collect and treat dirty water that has been used for toilet flushing, bathing and showering, washing clothes and dishes and other normal residential, business and institutional purposes. However, when certain items enter the sanitary sewer system, sewers can become clogged leading to sanitary sewer back-ups and sewer overflows into the environment. Below are some simple actions you can take to help protect the sewer system: Grease buildup in sewer

  • “Can the Grease”. DO NOT dispose of grease and oils into any sink or drain. Instead pour grease into a can, cool the can in the freezer, and then discard in the trash.
  • Wipe grease out of pots and pans with a paper towel prior to washing. Place paper towels in the trash.
  • Minimize use of garbage disposals as many foods are cooked or contain additional oils. Use strainers on sinks to catch food scraps and dispose of in the trash.
  • DO NOT flush non-degradable materials down the toilet. These include items such as so-called “flushable” wipes, paper towels, condoms, and personal hygiene items (tissues, feminine care products, Q-tips, etc). Instead place these items in the trash.
  • DO NOT flush medications down the toilet. Flushing medications into the sewer system pose a hazard to water quality. Instead, mix them with substances like kitty litter or used coffee grounds, place mixture in a seal-able bag, and place in a secured trash can. Alternatively, you can return these medications during Drug Take-Back Days or at permanent disposal locations. To locate a permanent disposal location, please visit the U.S. Department of Justice's Diversion Control Division website.
  • Report any sanitary sewer issues to the City by calling 311 or 703.746.4311.