Easement Clearing

About the Program

In 2005 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) advised the Hampton Roads Sanitation District (HRSD) that it was EPA’s intention to place HRSD under a Federal Consent Decree to address Sanitary Sewer Overflows (SSO’s). The EPA further collaborated with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to place 13 localities that discharge wastewater to HRSD under a State Consent Order to address SSO’s in the localities’ systems. JCSA was one of the 13 localities included along with Williamsburg, York County, Gloucester, Newport News, Poquoson, Hampton, Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Smithfield, and Isle of Wight County.

After two years of coordination between HRSD, the Localities, and the DEQ, the Consent Order language and technical standards were completed and the order became effective on September 26, 2007. EPA's Consent Decree with HRSD was issued February 2010. The State Consent Order required JCSA to develop a Management, Operations and Maintenance Program (MOM) which was approved in 2012. JCSA’s MOM stipulates easement clearing every 5 years and HRSD is committed to annual mowing and clearing trees and brush.

JCSA has over 130 miles of wastewater off right-of-way easements which are typically 20 feet wide. JCSA’s Operations Division previously managed the Easement Clearing Program. Engineering initiated easement evaluations in winter 2014 where they were walked, described, photographed and graded, which allowed for prioritizing. This resulted in developing a new clearing scope and Request for Proposals to hire a contractor for easement clearing. The scope includes disallowing brush hog/mowing style operations, cutting trees and woody brush, leaving grass and legumes, hand-cutting with chain saws and saw blade trimmers and stumps being treated with aquatic safe herbicide. There are 4 scenarios used to define clearing and debris handling:
  1. Remote Areas – Cut and stack low to ground on easement edges.
  2. Adjacent to Occupied Properties – Cut and chip/distribute chips in easement or haul away if too large.
  3. Fallen Trees – Cut in 18- to 24-inch lengths within easement and stack along easement edges.
  4. Trees > 10 inches – Cut from top down and lower with ropes; stack, chip or haul away per 1 and 2 above.
JCSA does not intend to remove ornamental trees and shrubs in maintained yards. These include myrtles, dogwoods, hollies, Leland cypress, rhododendron, river birch, Bradford pear, etc. JCSA does intend to remove natural growing trees that tend to grow large, even in maintained yards. These include oaks, pines, beach, gum, poplar, maples, sycamore, hickories, etc.