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D.C. Officials: Sewage Project Will Raise Rates, Bring Jobs

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D.C.'s plans to overhaul its sewage treatment system will mean pretty significant cost increases for users. 
Jessica Gould
D.C.'s plans to overhaul its sewage treatment system will mean pretty significant cost increases for users. 

Massive upgrades to the city’s sewer system will cause a major spike in residents' water rates, according to D.C. officials. But they also hope the giant construction project will lead to new jobs for District workers. 

As part of a federally mandated project, D.C. Water is planning to build three huge tunnels to capture the combination of stormwater and sewage that flows into local rivers during heavy rains. The agency broke ground on the project yesterday in Southwest D.C.

The machine used to build the tunnels is as big as a football field, and the project is the city's largest since the construction of Metro. But with a $2.6 billion dollar price tag, the project is going to be costly. An average retail customers' bill is expected to increase from $60 to $100 by 2010. 

Despite the costs, Mayor Vincent Gray says the project provides a major opportunity for D.C. residents. 

"We are going to make sure that these jobs that are created are going to the people of the District of Columbia and the people who live right here in Ward 8," he says.

The project is expected to reduce sewage overflows by 96 percent, and is scheduled to be complete in 2025. 

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