Wastewater is water that has been used in washing, flushing or manufacturing, in either homes or businesses.

Treatment of wastewater plays a critical role in keeping our water fishable and swimmable, suitable for sustaining aquatic life and supporting recreation. 

Richmond's wastewater treatment plant, opened in 1958, makes a huge impact on our everyday quality of life. Located along the south bank of the James River, the plant can treat up to 75 million gallons of sanitary sewage and stormwater every day, before returning the now-treated water to the river.

The Department of Public Utilities also manages Richmond’s Combined Sewer System (CSS). The CSS carries everyday wastewater to the wastewater treatment plant during dry weather.

When we have heavy rainfall, rainwater from stormdrains can flow into the CSS, causing Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO). This overflow of untreated stormwater and wastewater exits the system at various overflow points located on the banks of the James River and Gillies Creek.

Click here to see the timeline of Richmond's CSO control program. For a map of Richmond's CSO locations, please click here.

Visit our Pollution Solution page to see some of the ways you can help limit wastewater pollution. 



The wastewater treatment plant treats pollutants such as nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment, that contribute to the degradation of the Chesapeake Bay. The 2011 plant improvements gave us the ability to reduce the amount of these pollutants discharged to the bay by more than half. In 2014, we discharged 55% less nitrogen than we did in 2006 – over 1 million fewer pounds.