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The District's water agency is drilling a huge tunnel under sections of the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers through an agreement to end sewer overflow into the rivers. Now DC Water wants to use green infrastructure -- like permeable-pavement bike lanes and rain gardens -- to reduce the need for two more tunnels farther up the Potomac. But some environmentalists are reluctant to give up the tunnels--and their promise of clean rivers--without proof green infrastructure works. Kojo explores the proposal to trade "gray" tunnels for "green" solutions.
Under the terms of a federally mandated consent decree, DC Water is implementing the $2.6 billion Clean Rivers Project. The first phase of the project is underway and involves constructing a massive underground tunnel system to control combined sewer overflows into the Anacostia River. In this video, DC Water General Manager George Hawkins visits the project's first tunnel boring machine, Lady Bird, on her subterranean job site.
The Blue Plains Tunnel is beginning to take shape under the Potomac River. DC Water’s Tunnel Boring Machine, nicknamed Lady Bird, has mined about 1,100 feet so far from her launch pit at the Blue Plains Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant. (All photos courtesy DC Water)