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D.C. Water To Cut Pollution From Wastewater Plant By Half

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The Blue Plains Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant is the largest plant in the world. It has the capacity to treat 370 million gallons of sewage a day.
D.C. Water and Sewer Authority
The Blue Plains Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant is the largest plant in the world. It has the capacity to treat 370 million gallons of sewage a day.

The city, the D.C. Water and Sewer Authority, and federal agencies broke ground on the Blue Plains Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant Tuesday.

Here's how it'll work: One set of bacteria will remove nitrogen from some of the 370 million gallons of waste the region flushes through the sewers to the plant each day. Another set of bacteria will bubble that nitrogen into the atmosphere in a non-polluting form. What's left of the waste is cooked to break it down further and sterilize it.

More bacteria feed on that, breaking it down even further and generating methane gas. The gas is used to power the plant.

George Hawkins, the head of D.C. Water, says the project will revolutionize operations at the plant.

"This is going to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, we'll have energy for the plant, and the amount of solids we truck off this site is gonna drop in half," says Hawkins.

The plant will also cover a third of it's own electricity needs and cut its nitrogen pollution in half.

"This is discharges that otherwise would go to the Potomac and from the Potomac right to the Chesapeake," says Hawkins.

D.C. Water says the upgrades, which will cost $1.4 billion dollars, will pay for themselves in 7 years. The cost of the improvement will be paid by ratepayers.

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