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DC Water today announced the success of both its first green infrastructure (GI) projects in Rock Creek and the innovative Environmental Impact Bond (EIB) that financed them. The intent of the projects and robust evaluation of project outcomes was to establish the effectiveness of green infrastructure in the District and reduce combined sewer and stormwater runoff into Rock Creek, improving the health of waterways in the District.
These projects achieved the goals set in 2016, reducing runoff into Rock Creek by nearly 20 percent. DC Water’s prediction, measurement, and reporting of the outcomes is a signature component of the EIB, the first issuance of its kind in the country. The information gained through performance monitoring resulted in optimizations that will ensure a future for green infrastructure at DC Water.
The proceeds from the EIB provided the upfront capital needed to construct the first GI project in the DC Clean Rivers Project, which involved the installation of 25 acres of bioretention (rain gardens) in planter strips and curb extensions, permeable pavement on streets and alleys, and two green infrastructure parks in the Rock Creek sewershed in Wards 4 and 5.
DC Water achieved the objectives established at the outset of the financing:
Each of these objectives was achieved. Additionally, post-construction monitoring found the green infrastructure reduced stormwater runoff by nearly 20 percent from previous levels, achieving the performance goals.
The rigorous measurement and reporting inherent to the EIB provided DC Water with lessons learned about green infrastructure that can be applied to other projects. In its final report on Rock Creek Project 1, DC Water highlights 15 lessons learned about porous pavement, bioretention, and other green infrastructure facilities, noting “significant information has been learned in terms of design, construction, and monitoring approaches that have added to DC Water’s body of knowledge and expertise related to GI. Collectively, the information gained through the performance monitoring and the resulting optimization allowed DC Water to be responsive, make corrections, and ensure a future for green infrastructure at DC Water.”
Based on these findings, DC Water plans to implement a hybrid approach in the Rock Creek sewershed that blends the best of gray and green infrastructure. The hybrid approach provides the same degree of stormwater control as the all-gray (using traditional engineering techniques) infrastructure alternative, lowers capital costs as compared to the all-gray or all-green alternatives, and will be implemented by 2030, the deadline in the 2016 Consent Decree Modification.
This hybrid approach is accountable to District ratepayers and delivers additional benefits such as more green space for public use and more local green jobs as compared to the all-gray option. DC Water’s ambitious local green jobs program includes training and certification opportunities for District residents interested in GI construction, inspection, and maintenance.
“This financing instrument required analysis at a level not usually performed,” said David L. Gadis, DC Water Chief Executive Officer and General Manager. “Utilities across the country can apply our learnings to their stormwater programs. The information and lessons learned will benefit the entire sector and will inform our future projects as well.”
DC Water CFO Matt Brown added, “This model allowed DC Water to share a portion of the financial risk associated with green infrastructure investment on this scale. Because the projects met the established goals, the District benefits with cleaner waterways and a greener environment. This EIB establishes a replicable and scalable approach to financing green infrastructure for other communities across the country.”
Gadis added, “Another component that serves as a model to utilities nationwide is the local jobs and workforce development program we created in partnership with the Water Environment Federation. We are training and certifying District residents for green jobs and we aim to fill 51 percent of the new jobs created by the GI program with District residents.”
About DC Water
DC Water provides more than 700,000 residents and 21.3 million annual visitors in the District of Columbia with retail water and wastewater (sewer) service. With a total service area of approximately 725 square miles, DC Water also treats wastewater for approximately 1.6 million people in neighboring jurisdictions, including Montgomery and Prince George’s counties in Maryland and Fairfax and Loudoun counties in Virginia.
The Blue Plains Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant is located at the southernmost tip of the District, covering 153 acres along the Potomac River. Blue Plains is the largest advanced wastewater treatment facility in the world and home to North America’s first thermal hydrolysis plant that enables anaerobic digestion to create electricity from wastewater.
The DC Clean Rivers Project is a $2.7 billion program to control combined sewer overflows to its three waterways—the Anacostia and Potomac rivers and Rock Creek— improving the District’s water quality and creating a healthier future for District residents. More information on the Environmental Impact Bond – and hi res images—can be found at dcwater.com/EIB. More information on the Clean Rivers Project can be found at dcwater.com/cleanrivers.
Today, at an event with Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, U.S. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, D.C. Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie, DC Water Chief Executive Officer and General Manager David L. Gadis, and other local officials, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael S. Regan announced a $156 million Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan to the District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority (DC Water).
DC Water announced a AAA rating by S&P for the upcoming Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan. DC Water plans to close on the loan in the coming weeks for approximately $156 million in EPA funding.
The Anacostia River Tunnel Project is the second in a series of four tunnels that will mitigate combined sewer overflows that are currently discharged to the Anacostia River. The 23 foot diameter tunnel is approximately 12,500 feet in length and extends from Robert F. Kennedy (RFK) Stadium in northeast DC to Poplar Point in southeast DC. In addition to the tunnel construction, DC Water has also been building surface facilities to divert the combined sewer overflows to the tunnel at various sites along the I-295 corridor, M Street SE and the Southeast Freeway. These facilities include deep shafts that range from 20 to 60 feet wide and large concrete structures to divert raw sewage from being discharged to the Anacostia River. The construction of these facilities is unparalleled in the District. Not since the construction of the original sewer system in the early 1900’s and the Metro has the District seen construction of this magnitude.
The Anacostia River Tunnel will connect with the Blue Plains Tunnel at Poplar Point and deliver captured combined sewer overflows to the Blue Plains Advanced Wastewater Treatment plant for treatment prior to discharge to the Potomac River. With the Blue Plains and Anacostia River Tunnels in service, DC Water will have met a key Consent Decree milestone in the Clean Rivers Project. In March 2018, it is anticipated that upon completion of this first phase of the Clean Rivers Project, combined sewer overflows to the Anacostia River will be reduced by 81 percent.
DC Water will replace the existing 8 and 12-inch cast iron water mains in the Bloomingdale area as part of its Capital Improvement Program. These efforts will improve water quality and system reliability, increase water pressure, and maintain adequate flows.
For decades, DC Water has been a pacesetter in restoring the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay by improving the performance and treatment capabilities of the Blue Plains Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant. The facility has successfully achieved nitrogen removal since 1999, and has exceeded the Chesapeake Bay Agreement goal of removing 40 percent of the total nitrogen (TN) in the effluent from the plant.
As part of a continuing effort to improve water quality, DC Water is designing facilities to reduce nitrogen discharges even further – to the limit of conventional treatment technology. These facilities, known as the enhanced nitrogen removal facilities (ENRF), are being constructed as part of our $3.8-billion, ten-year Capital Improvement Program (CIP).
The Filtrate Treatment Facilities (FTF) are part of this effort. This novel anammox-based side stream treatment process, called DEMON®, will be the largest of its kind in the world when the facility is commissioned. The DEMON® process represents a major breakthrough in nitrogen removal because it does not require the addition of methanol, uses 60 percent less energy than mainstream treatment and has the lowest greenhouse gas emissions of all the processes considered for this project. It could save DC Water more than $8 million a year in methanol and energy costs.
Long-term benefits include:
■ Lowest demonstrated energy demand of any biological treatment process.
■ No methanol or other supplemental carbon requirement.
■ Lowest greenhouse gas emissions.
The construction cost of this project is approximately $64 million. Notice-to-Proceed was given to the contractor in March 2014, and the facility is expected to be online in 2017.
Project is currently 94% complete and scheduled to finish sometime in Q2 of 2018.
Through the Elevated Water Storage Tower Project, DC Water will perform water system improvements for the proposed Anacostia 2nd high service area. The proposed new service area and water storage tower will serve the southern section of the existing Anacostia 1sthigh service area, improving water quality, system reliability, water pressure and ensuring adequate flows throughout the system.
The project area for the water storage tower is located near the Saint Elizabeths Hospital National Historic Landmark (NHL). The proposed site for the new tank is adjacent to the newly constructed hospital facility. The new tower will permit demolition of the existing tower which was originally build in the 1930s and is today semi operational and unable to provide adequate water pressure to the hospital facility.