ENR MidAtlantic has named DC Water its 2014 Owner of the Year. Faced with strict new regulations regarding water quality in the Chesapeake Bay, the District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority, known as DC Water, is in the heart of a massive multi-billion-dollar program to upgrade its wastewater treatment system.

Ongoing upgrades to its Blue Plains facility will reduce total nitrogen in the plant system to less than 4 milligrams per liter from previous levels of about 5 mg/l. Another project takes an innovative approach to water treatment. Utilizing the Cambi thermal hydrolysis process, the plant will “cook” sludge material under high pressure and steam to generate a better class of biosolids. The process will also generate about 13MW of power at the plant. Blue Plains will be the first plant in North America to use the process.

Another key aspect of DC Water’s plan is its $2.6-billion Clean Rivers Project, which addresses capacity issues in its combined sewer overflow system. The agency is engaged in an expansive effort to build a system of tunnels that can accommodate and store peak water flows so the plant can fully treat more of the water that currently overflows into local rivers during heavy storms. Since last year, a large tunnel-boring machine, dubbed “Lady Bird,” has been carving out a four-mile section of the tunnel along and under the Anacostia River.

Our annual Owner of the Year designation, voted on by ENR editors, honors a private or public entity that had a significant impact on the design and construction community in the previous calendar year. 

DC Water will be recognized in the April 14 issue of ENR MidAtlantic.