core purpose shall be defined in the Virginia
State Code as,
"management of the safe and environmentally
sound disposal of regional waste".
Historically, solid waste in southeastern
Virginia had been handled by the individual
localities in accordance with local and state
regulations. Each city or county either collected
and disposed of waste within its borders or
transported the collected waste to a neighboring
city for disposal. Commercial and industrial
waste was collected by private haulers but
disposal was restricted to the community in
which it was generated. Many of the communities
faced the growing challenge of how to handle
their waste effectively.
The local communities had already realized
a need for a regional water supply system,
so in 1973, they created the Southeastern
Water Authority of Virginia, pursuant to
the Virginia Water and Sewer Authorities
Act. This organization never reached operational
status as a water authority and in 1976,
by agreement of the local municipalities,
became the Southeastern Public Service Authority.
Its responsibilities were expanded to include
the implementation of a regional solid waste
disposal system to include a resource recovery
operation, featuring a Refuse Derived Fuel
(RDF) Plant and a Power Plant.
At SPSA's inception, the organization had
no staff, no funds and no facilities or
equipment. Staff for the regional planning
agency, the Southeastern Virginia Planning
District Commission, acted as SPSA staff
until 1978 when a full time staff was employed.
Initial funding was provided by $3,000,000
of bond anticipation notes secured by four
During 1978 and 1979, design was initiated
on the RDF and Power Plants. From 1979 to
1984, 30-year contracts with all eight communities
were executed providing for them to deliver
95 percent of their waste to SPSA and to
pay the established fees. Also during this
period, the Navy, with SPSA's help, obtained
a $160 million congressional appropriation
to acquire and operate the Power Plant.
Additionally, transfer station sites were
selected, design completed and construction
started. In 1982, a 300 acre landfill site
was acquired in a rural section of the city
of Suffolk and construction was completed
in 1985. In 1985, the Regional Landfill
and the Norfolk, Chesapeake, Franklin and
Portsmouth Transfer Stations became operational.
The Portsmouth Transfer Station was closed
in 1987 when the RDF Plant was completed.
During 1986 and 1987, additional transfer
stations were opened in Southampton and
Isle of Wight and the Oceana Transfer Station
was acquired from the city of Virginia Beach.
Construction was completed in 1987 on the
RDF and Power Plants and operation of the
resource recovery system began in 1988.
In mid-1990 SPSA assumed operation and maintenance
responsibility for the Power Plant.
During the time facilities were being constructed,
operating and administrative staff were
employed. Heavy equipment for the landfill
and transfer stations and transfer vehicles
were acquired. Funding was provided by bond
issues of $26 million and $107.8 million
in 1984 and $20 million in 1985.
In 1995, SPSA adopted a Vision, Mission
and Values statement to give the agency
a direction and a plan to continue serving
the communities of southeastern Virginia
into the future.
In late 2008, the economic downturn in
the nation had a devastating impact on SPSA.
The loss of solid waste and a history of
borrowing funds for capital purchases put
the organization in the worse monetary position
it ever faced.
Through cutbacks in or elimination of programs,
reductions in its employee base, the commitment
of the 8 communities which make up SPSA
to support financial reorganization, working
with the various lending institutions to
which the organization owed money and the
sale of SPSA's largest asset, the Waste
to Energy facilities in Portsmouth, for
$150 million to pay down debt, SPSA rose
from being on the edge of insolvency to
an organization with substantial cash reserve
and capable of a very bright future.
SPSA's use and support agreements with
its 8 member ends on January 24, 2018. This
means that SPSA will have no means of generating
income after this date. The SPSA Board of
Directors in mid 2010 will be developing
a long range operating plan to set the course
for the organization over these years.
What the organization will be or will not
be is a direct result of what the 8 communities,
or a portion thereof, determine. SPSA's
life after 2018 is in the hands of the communities.