Monday, April 21, 2014

2014 Water Symposium Concludes

By Carilyne Vance

The University of the District of Columbia for the second consecutive year hosted the National Capital Region Water Resources Symposium, “Water Resources and Water Infrastructures: Emerging Problems and Solutions,” bringing together experts from governmental agencies, academia, the private sector, and non-profits to discuss sustainable management of water resources and infrastructure in the region, as well as nationally and internationally. The program included panelists, breakout sessions poster displays and a keynote by George Hawkins, general manager, District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority (DC Water).
DC Water moves over 300 million gallons of enriched water around the District and treats water for Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties in Maryland and Fairfax and Loudon Counties in Virginia. Future challenges exist for this under-recognized and life sustaining entity. DC Water maintains and monitors over 1300 miles of pipes, four pumping stations, five reservoirs, five in-ground holding tanks and also maintains over 1800 sewer lines.  Faced with a pipe system that is over 100 years old, DC water must not only maintain but upgrade this system while keeping operating costs down.  

The Blue Plains Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant is located in Southwest DC and provides wastewater treatment for over 325 million gallons a day, while reducing the levels of phosphorus and nitrogen flowing into the Chesapeake Bay. This reduction of nutrients has slowed the growth of algae in the water system, thereby increasing indigenous fish and wildlife populations.  

The innovation does not stop there. DC Water has partnered with the local academic community to recruit Ph.D. candidates to work on biomass power which will turn digester byproduct into methane which produces steam and then into power for use in DC Water facilities. This would cut the municipality’s Carbon footprint by one-third and reduce its truck traffic by one-half. DC Water is also using these academic teams to put a plan in place to sell the Class A bio-solids from Blue Plains. This cash-flow project would have a 13 year payback and would be a major revenue earner for the municipality, ultimately leading to decreased consumer rates.  

 “We were pleased to host another successful symposium in partnership with the American Water Resources Association. Now more than ever, people are making the connection between water and its impact on sustaining our quality of life, from things taking for granted such as washing the dishes, to new development in DC, an increasingly progressive urban center,” said Dr. Tolessa Deksissa, Director of UDC’s Water Resources Research Institute and Professional Science Master’s Water Resource Management Program. “Therefore, water challenges and opportunities must be addressed in a sustainable manner.” 

View photos of the event on our Facebook page.

Water Resources and Water Infrastructures: Emerging Problems and Solutions was hosted by the AWRA-National Capital Region Section and the Water Resources Research Institute (WRRI), part of the Center for Sustainable Development of the College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences (CAUSES) of the University of the District of Columbia. 

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