Residuals Management Project FAQs

Below you will find answers to some of our frequently asked questions regarding the construction phase of the Residual Management Project. If you don't see your question here please check 
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16. Where have other landfills containing water treatment residuals been created in urban settings?
One similar, nearby residuals monofill is located on the site of the Upper Occoquan Sewage Authority (UOSA) Wastewater Treatment Plant. The monofill is across the road from a residential subdivision in Centreville, Virginia. This plant treats municipal wastewater to near drinking water standards prior to discharging plant effluent into a tributary of the Occoquan Reservoir. The plant uses a treatment process known as “high lime treatment” for this. The lime residuals by-product produced by this treatment process are gravity thickened and dewatered on site and then deposited in the dedicated on-site monofill. The characteristics of the lime solids are similar to, although not precisely the same as, the Washington Aqueduct water treatment residuals.
17. Would we have to disclose the monofill as part of our real estate transactions?
No. Based on information from real estate professionals and UOSA, no disclosure will be required for adjacent properties for real estate transactions because the monofill would not be a part of the adjacent properties.
18. If the monofill were to be built, how would it affect my property’s value?
Possible impacts on the neighborhood around any of the proposed facilities that may negatively affect property values are an important consideration in the decision-making process. Washington Aqueduct is working to fully characterize and document all of the potential impacts in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement.
19. Doesn’t the District of Columbia prohibit landfills? How could you build something that violates DC ordinances?
The District of Columbia prohibits landfills on private properties. This prohibition does not apply to this project because Washington Aqueduct is a federal entity operating on federal land. This potential conflict concerned us and so we met with the DC Attorney General’s office on this matter in order to clarify our position.
20. Regardless of the chosen alternative, don’t you still have to construct some large facilities at the Dalecarlia Water Treatment Plant (WTP)? Are they close to the Capital Crescent Trail?
Yes. Both the monofill disposal alternative and the off-site disposal alternative would require the same residuals processing facility to be constructed. This facility would include residuals thickening, pumping, dewatering, short-term storage, and truck loading facilities. The proposed residuals processing facility would likely be constructed on a 5 acre parcel of existing Aqueduct property located north of the existing maintenance yard, or in an area on the Dalecarlia Reservoir property near Sibley Hospital.

If built on the area near the maintenance yard, the dewatering building is expected to be three levels and have a red brick facade with multipane arched windows and slate roof, a look similar to that of the existing historical buildings on the Dalecarlia WTP campus.

The pipeline alternative would not require the three story dewatering building, but would still require four 105-foot diameter gravity thickeners (as required in the proposed residuals processing facility described above). A centrally located, single story thickened residuals pump station would also be required with the Blue Plains alternative. This pump station would transport the thickened residuals to the Blue Plains Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP). The proposed pump station would be smaller than the proposed residuals processing building described above. Still, a dewatering building would be required at the Blue Plains WWTP instead.

We are very aware of, and very sensitive to, the fact that the facilities at the Dalecarlia WTP may be within view of the Capital Crescent Trail and nearby homes. However, this site has been reserved in master planning documents for several years for just such a purpose. Moreover, the building on this site, as described above, would be visually consistent with the rest of the view of the Dalecarlia WTP from the Capital Crescent Trail. Given the siting advantages discussed above, the preservation of other critical usable space at the Dalecarlia WTP, and its accessibility from existing roads, the site appears to be the best choice. We have received many ideas and expressions of concern from the neighboring communities and other groups regarding the design and placement of this complex. We will incorporate many of these ideas into the final design in order to minimize the visual impact of this complex. Some of these ideas include screening with trees, screening with berms, making the building less tall by burying a portion of it and considering alternatate arrangements of thickeners and the dewatering building. The matter will be further evaluated in the draft EIS.

The second potential site in the area on the Dalecarlia Reservoir property near Sibley Hospital, will also be evaluated. The analysis for constructing and operating the processing facility on this potential site will be described in the Draft and Final EIS documents.
21. All of the alternatives under consideration involve handling the sediments at the Dalecarlia WTP. What will the noise and smell impacts be like?
Additional noise from truck traffic may be expected in the neighborhood of Dalecarlia WTP under two of the alternatives, however based on the analysis of baseline conditions, this noise is not expected to significantly impact the neighborhood. The mechanical equipment for all of the alternatives, including either dewatering equipment or pumps, will be contained within a building. Based on data from other water treatment plants, the smell from the thickening basins should not be noticeable to neighbors of the Dalecarlia WTP.
22. If off-site disposal is chosen, how many trucks will be traveling on our area roads? How does this compare to the number of trucks that are there now?
About 10 to 20 trucks on average would be leaving the Dalecarlia WTP with residuals each day. The precise number of trucks required within this range will depend upon the size of the truck used by the contract residuals hauler.

To best understand and measure the impact on traffic and land uses we are looking at the potential haul routes and examining them using standard traffic observation standards. We will be considering factors such as the average daily traffic volume, the existing percentage of heavy trucks in that volume, the level of service of congested segments, traffic constraints, and adjacent land uses. We are conducting field observations at appropriate intersections and reviewing accident data for the last three years. All of this information will help us understand the potential for truck traffic impacts, identify where any impacts would likely be, and decide if any steps are needed to reduce those impacts. All of this information will be detailed in the Draft EIS.
23. Can you secure the necessary permits, and construct a new pipeline all the way to Blue Plains, within the time required for a project to be complete?
We do not know the answer to this yet. However, it might not be feasible within the available time period to obtain the necessary easements, rights-of-way, or land transfers as well as design and construct the proposed pipeline from Dalecarlia WTP to the Blue Plains WWTP. The alternative including this pipeline is being considered because the Potomac Interceptor/ Dulles Interceptor sewer line passes the Dalecarlia WTP en route to the Blue Plains WWTP, and a pipeline generally following that path might be less environmentally disruptive. The National Park Service and the District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority (WASA) have informed us that there is no existing right-of-way that could be used for the proposed pipeline, however. Therefore, Washington Aqueduct is working to better understand the process, as well as the expected time period, for an appropriate easement, right-of-way, or land transfer to be completed. This real estate process could take in excess of 12-18 months to undertake and obtain approval from the federal government landowners on the route. The federal government landowners on the route who would have to authorize the pipeline are likely to include the National Park Service (through five different National Parks), the Department of the Navy (through at least two different activities), and the Department of the Air Force. In addition, depending on the designed route, there may be other local governmental and private landowners who would have to provide a right-of-way through their property. The difficulties that could be encountered are similar to those that, on an even greater scale, caused a number of the original 26 alternatives to be screened out.

Also, the National Park Service has indicated that there may need to be an extensive historical investigation, if not preservation, effort made along the proposed pipe route. The continuing results of our efforts will be included in the draft EIS.
24. Why can’t you put the residuals in the sewer like other water treatment plants?

We studied this alternative in the Engineering Feasibility Study because it was one of the obvious alternatives to consider. We discovered two problems with this alternative that lead to its elimination from consideration.

  1. The Potomac Interceptor, as mentioned above, passes by the Dalecarlia WTP near the Potomac River. WASA staff provided data about the feasibility of using this gravity sewer to transport Washington Aqueduct water treatment residuals to the Blue Plains WWTP. An immediate concern was that, during storm events, the Potomac Interceptor, and its associated connector sewers can overflow directly to the Potomac River at several points along the route between the Dalecarlia WTP and the Blue Plains WWTP. Water treatment residuals discharged into the Potomac Interceptor from the Washington Aqueduct treatment facilities could, therefore, also be discharged back into the Potomac River during storm events. This would be inconsistent with the intent of the new NPDES permit.
  2. Also, the amount of solids (i.e., pounds per day of residuals) produced at the Dalecarlia WTP is too great for the Blue Plains WWTP to process without requiring significant, and very costly, improvements to the wastewater treatment plant. The nature of the water treatment residuals (i.e., high silt load and low organic content) further restricts the amount of water treatment residuals that can be processed at the wastewater treatment plant. The low organic content of the water treatment residuals could also interfere with the biological treatment processes used to treat municipal wastewater at the Blue Plains WWTP.

It is for these reasons that the current piping alternative would involve bringing the residuals to the end of the treatment process at Blue Plains WWTP for dewatering.

25. How has public concerns shaped the project so far?
We learned early on in the project that community members were concerned about truck traffic. In response we wanted to make sure that we looked carefully at some alternatives that did not include continuous residuals trucking to an off site location.

We learned that we needed to look carefully for “outside of the box” alternatives, such as plasma technology and using barges to transport residuals to the Blue Plains Wastewater WWTP. Although screened out, these were seriously considered.

We learned that what our facilities look like is a very big concern. We are spending extra effort to develop conceptual site planning and design for the dewatering facilities at the Dalecarlia WTP to make sure they fit into the campus-like setting of our facility. We have developed simulations to illustrate what these facilities would look like from the Capital Crescent Trail and other areas and we are carefully evaluating the visual impact of all of the proposed facilities in the Draft EIS.

We learned that there is a lot of concern about the impact of the proposed monofill. We are studying the issues surrounding the monofill very carefully and are aware there may be issues that would prevent its implementation. (Please see answer to FAQ #14 above.)

We learned that a number of people are very interested in piping the residuals to the Blue Plains WWTP. We are studying this alternative carefully and are aware of some issues that may affect our ability to build it. (Please see answers to FAQ # 22 above.)

We learned that public interest in the project is increasing and that many people would like more information about the issues surrounding the alternatives. We would like to share these issues with the community as we continue to learn about them. To that end, we are increasing our public involvement activities significantly to allow for ample, two-way communication about our ongoing work right up until the Draft EIS is available for public review.

In response to specific requests for additional opportunities for the public to interact in the NEPA process for this project, two comment periods have been established outside of the traditional comment periods typically used for developing EIS documents. The first of the comment periods extended from mid-September through November 15, 2004. Various stakeholders suggested 102 individual alternatives and options during this comment period. Some of these had already been considered in part or in full, and many of the suggestions duplicated other suggestions. However, two alternatives were identified as potentially capable of satisfying the project purpose and need, and will be evaluated in detail. The analysis of these two alternatives will be described in the Draft and Final EIS.

The second additional comment period extends from December 16, 2004 through February 14, 2005. Please see FAQ #25 for details on how to make a comment.

Following the publication of the Draft EIS, a formal public comment period will follow. Please see FAQ #25 for details on how to make a comment during this comment period.
26. How can my opinions and concerns be heard? How can I influence the process?

You may provide us with any ideas that you have on the best approach for our residuals management. We initially looked at 26 ideas, some of them specific suggestions from the public. The first additional comment period yielded 102 suggestions from the public. From these two additional alternatives were identified as satisfying the screening criteria.

A second additional comment period extends from December 16, 2004 through February 14, 2005. Any alternatives suggested during this comment period will also be evaluated by our screening criteria to determine if they should be included in our Draft Environmental Impact Statement.

Please read all of our project material, tell us your opinions and concerns about the project alternatives. Community opinion helps us to understand what is most important – both to the customers we serve and the community where we are located. This informs our decision-making as we seek to balance the best mix of trade-offs in potential solutions.

Please read the Draft Environmental Impact Statement when it is available. The comments from the public must be included and addressed in the recommendations put forward in the Final EIS that will be developed in the spring of 2005.

Comments may be submitted to, or by sending a letter to:

Washington Aqueduct
5900 MacArthur Boulevard, NW
Washington, DC 20016
Attn: Michael Peterson

27. Were any good alternatives eliminated solely because they might cost too much?
No. Cost must be a factor in our decision-making, but it has not been the only reason why an alternative has not been continued for further investigation.
28. Have you made a decision on selecting an alternative yet?
No, a decision has not been made yet. A draft preferred alternative will be identified and described in the Draft EIS, when it is completed. The preferred alternative is a recommendation based on the analysis of all of the potential impacts related to each alternative. There will be a formal public comment period following the publication of the Draft EIS. A Final Environmental Impact Statement will be published after all of the comments have been integrated into the analysis. The ROD, as mentioned in the answer to FAQ # 2 above, will identify the selected alternative. The ROD is expected to be issued sometime in Fall 2005.