Hampton Roads’ solution to stop the land from sinking? Wastewater.

It looks like a mad scientist’s lab, something straight out of a sci-fi novel. Valves turn in every direction. Tubes are stacked halfway to the ceiling. Tiny bubbles dance in large vats of water.

But what’s happening in a hangar of the York River Treatment Plant is real, part of a grand experiment that could help keep this coastal region from continuing to subside and eventually being claimed by the rising sea. Over the next 15 months, tests will determine whether millions of gallons of wastewater can be purified to drinking water quality and injected into the ground.

If successful, the project of the Hampton Roads Sanitation District could start to replenish a giant aquifer that thousands of industries and half a million households in the area are sucking dry. Over the past five decades, they have collectively pumped out so much water that land here is falling 4 millimeters a year — or more than 1½ inches by 2026.

Read More (Washington Post)