The tunnel-boring machine, nicknamed “Lady Bird,” made its debut Tuesday at the Blue Plains Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant, where DC Water officials heralded it as part of a plan to significantly reduce the amount of raw sewage that flows into local rivers and basements during rainstorms. The tunnel-boring machine was named after Lady Bird Johnson as a tribute to her environmental activism.
The problem stems from the fact that, as in some other older cities, one-third of the District’s sewer pipes also carry rainwater runoff. (In the rest of the city, stormwater is carried away in pipes separate from the sewer system.)
The District must reduce the sewer overflows as part of a 2005 consent decree related to a federal environmental lawsuit. The rain-sewage mixture also contains animal feces, oil, pesticides and other pollutants that run off lawns and roads. (Wash Post, 4/9/2013)