DC Water Breaks Ground on $1.4 Billion in Environmental Projects

Jun 21, 2011

The District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority (DC Water) is set to begin work on two massive environmental projects at the Blue Plains Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant, the world’s largest facility of its kind. Blue Plains processes an average of 370 million gallons of wastewater per day.

DC Water will be the first in North America to use thermal hydrolysis for wastewater treatment. When completed, it will be the largest thermal hydrolysis plant in the world. Though the practice has been employed in Europe, the water sector in North America has not yet adopted this technology. Industry leaders across the continent eagerly await the results of DC Water’s undertaking.
The process "pressure-cooks" the solids left over after wastewater treatment to produce combined heat and power-generating 13 MW of electricity ($10 million savings annually). These vessels can also ingest scraps, fats and grease to generate power. ($400 million project)
"DC Water is the largest consumer of electricity in the District, and the digesters should cut our consumption by a third," said General Manager George S. Hawkins. "That’s enough to power 8,000 homes. We’re also saving $10 million in trucking costs and reducing our carbon emissions by cutting the amount of solids at the end of the process in half."
"Enhanced Nutrient Removal Facilities (ENR): will reduce the amount of nitrogen in effluent to meet the new U.S. EPA and Chesapeake Bay Program goals of 4.7 million pounds per year or less in 2014" one of the most stringent requirements in the world. ($1 billion)
"The Enhanced Nutrient Removal Facilities are the result of years of technology research performed at Blue Plains," said Chairman William M. Walker."Blue Plains was the first to reach the 2010 Chesapeake Bay Program goals for nitrogen reduction, and were well on track to be the first for the next round."
These projects are slated for completion in 2014.

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