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October 19, 2020
DC Water announced today that it is partnering with several universities on groundbreaking new research that will save customers money and could improve water quality.
The goal is improved wastewater treatment and DC Water’s concept for improving the technology has the potential to save millions for cities around the world, said Chief Executive Officer and General Manager David L. Gadis.
“Our goal is to reduce energy use and save our customers money while using innovative technology to improve the environment,” explained Mr. Gadis, while praising the partnership with George Washington University, Northwestern University and the University of Queens in Ontario.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded DC Water its ‘Science to Achieve Results grant’ with a three-year timeframe for achieving results. At DC Water, the project is led by Christine deBarbadillo, the director of clean water and technology.
She said the authority has worked well with GW for many years on exploring solutions and upgrades to existing wastewater technology. She also said that the research is focused primarily on finding ways to denitrify wastewater in the Chesapeake Bay area while cutting the chemical and financial costs required to complete the process along with reducing energy consumption.
Removing nitrogen helps prevent harmful algae growth in the water and is a critical element in DC Water’s requirement to clean wastewater to the highest possible level before discharging it back into the Potomac River, where it leads to the Bay.
Nitrogen and phosphorus lead to algal blooms in wastewater. When that happens, the health of marine life, from fish to crabs to dolphins, is jeopardized.
According to deBarbadillo, the typical treatment methods used by DC Water to eliminate nitrogen involves costly equipment and using anammox, which is expensive and consumes a tremendous amount of electricity.
“We are using a different pathway into the nitrogen cycle to more efficiently remove nitrogen and save energy and chemical costs,” deBarbadilo said.
DC Water is also working with the Water Research Foundation on the technology.
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.
Currently, DC Water's administrative offices are spread across the District of Columbia in multiple facilities, including leased space. The Central Operations Facility at the Blue Plains Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant serves as the Authority's de facto headquarters, which was not its original intended purpose. Meantime, process improvements at Blue Plains have consumed almost all 150 acres of the plant. By relocating nonessential personnel off of the Blue Plains industrial campus, DC Water will preserve what little remaining space exists - an irreplaceable commodity - for future process improvements if required by permit or desired for innovation.
The new headquarters will be built over an operating pump station in the Capital Riverfront neighborhood. With 151,300 gross square feet, it will house approximately 350 employees and will allow DC Water to consolidate its administrative offices in a single location. Construction began in 2016 and is expected to be completed in early 2018.