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Amherst County working on project to stabilize sewer pipe near James River

James River in Amherst County. (@CourtnyJodonTV)

There's a big project going on in Amhest County to keep what's inside a sewer pipeline from getting into the James River.

Officials at the Amherst County Service Authority said if it isn't stabilized soon, it could cause problems in the next few years.

There are several manholes in the sewer system that are just a few feet away from the James River.

That was a different story 40 years ago. Amherst County Service Authority Director of Utilities Bob Hopkins said the James River was actually 45 feet or more away from them.

Hopkins said over the years, the river has been slowly eroding the bank out, putting the sewer pipe at risk.

"It's a situation where a major flood, like in a hurricane or something like that, that we've seen on a regular basis every 10-to-20 years, could essentially... do enough erosion that it would wipe out the sewer," Hopkins said.

The sewer serves 5,000-to-10,000 people in the county, specifically in the Madison Heights area.

It parallels the north bank of the James River.

Hopkins said the sewer could end up caving into the river, which not only would cause a problem with waste water collection in Madison Heights, but problems for the James River and the Chesapeake Bay.

"It would be an environmental catastrophe if we could not shut down the pipe if it fell into the river and all that raw sewage was being dumped into James River, which is already impaired," Hopkins said.

Construction crews will have to rebuild parts of the bank.

The project costs $2.8 million.

The Army Corps of Engineers is footing 65% of that, while the Amherst County Service Authority takes care of the rest.

Crews will begin working on the project September 27.

The project is expected to be finished in April 2019.

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