Monday, December 03, 2012

D.C. Water Management

In 2004 the D.C. Water and Sewer Authority was forced to settle a federal lawsuit that claimed it failed for decades to stop its sewers from spewing pollution. D.C. Water agreed to build three huge tunnels within 20 years to stop pipes from overflowing during rains, sending billions of gallons of storm water mixed with raw sewage into Rock Creek and the Potomac and Anacostia rivers every year.  The $2.6 billion Clean Rivers tunnel project is underway and construction can be seen just off of Highway 295 in Ward 8 at the Blue Plains Waste .

But now, the three-tunnel solution is in doubt, and activists, engineers and bureaucrats are arguing once again about the best path to cleaner waters. Although digging is underway for the first tunnel, D.C. Water wants to put the other two on hold and instead see whether rain gardens, retention ponds and grass rooftops can soak up as much storm-water runoff as the pipes can store. D.C. Water has asked the Environmental Protection Agency for permission to build an experimental “green infrastructure” project and run tests for at least eight years.

The green project would be built where the second and third tunnels were slated to run, along Rock Creek Parkway near the Kennedy Center to protect the Potomac River and in Upper Northwest neighborhoods to protect Rock Creek. A 13-mile tunnel under the Anacostia River and deep into the Northeast near a Home Depot off Rhode Island Avenue, currently under construction, would continue as planned.

The EPA is considering D.C. Water’s proposed “partnership agreement,” and a decision on whether to move forward with public hearings on the changes is expected soon. The green infrastructure proposal is an attempt to delay or cancel part of the tunnel. (Wash Post, 12/3/2012)

No comments: