Posts tagged ‘water’

Exploring DC Water

Smithsonian Gardens’ Green Team had a unique opportunity to visit the Blue Plains Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant (AWTP) owned and operated by Washington, D.C.’s Water and Sewer Authority or DC Water.  Serving the District and nearby suburbs, the plant takes in more than 330 million gallons of raw sewage daily.

We had the pleasure of meeting with General Manager George Hawkins before getting a tour of the facility.  After just a few minutes spent with Mr. Hawkins you could immediately appreciate not only his vast knowledge but his passion for what he does.  He touched upon several aspects of DC Water, from its many large construction projects to its water treatment process  to sustainability.

General Manager George Hawkins details various aspects of DC Water.

General Manager George Hawkins details various aspects of DC Water.

The Washington Aqueduct provides the public water supply system serving Washington, D.C., and parts of nearby suburbs and is run by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  DC Water takes wastewater and runs it through cleaning processes using mechanical, chemical and biological methods like screening, aeration, polymer use and bacterial digestion.  Once cleaned to EPA standards, this treated water is then put back into the Potomac River and the cycle begins once again.

One way DC Water is becoming more sustainable is with a huge construction project to further the biosolids management program with a Thermal Hydrolysis Process (THP) and digestion facility.  Once completed, the project will not only be the largest of its kind in the world, but also save DC Water around $10 million a year in energy costs and cut its usage by a third.  (DC Water is currently the largest consumer of electricity in the District.)  It will also reduce the amount of carbon emissions by approximately 50,000 metric tons yearly.  DC Water hopes to have the process up and running by July 2014.

George Hawkins actively looks for ways for DC Water to be more sustainable instead of simply taking the tried and true (easier) way out. Currently, any excess water generated during a large rain event that the facility can’t handle overflows into the city’s rivers.  DC Water’s Clean Rivers Project is a colossal undertaking that will help alleviate that issue; a huge cistern-like cavity is currently being built to gradually treat storm-water that overwhelms the system.  George also sees other ways of dealing with excess water, such as a push for individuals and the government on all levels to build bioswales, green roofs and rain gardens to help mitigate the problem.

The Smithsonian  Gardens Green Team tours the Blue Plains Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant.

The Smithsonian Gardens Green Team tours the Blue Plains Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant.

One way the public can help be more water smart is by drinking more tap water instead of using bottled water.  To this end, DC Water is directly involved with a project called TapIt that is also found in other cities.  TapIt enables you to locate eateries (via internet search, iPhone app, or restaurants labeled with a TapIt sticker) that will let you bring your own water bottle and fill it for free.

DC Water hopes someday to become net zero for energy consumption meaning it would produce energy equal to or more than its daily needs.  With future plans to double the Thermal Hydrolysis Process and digestion facility and talks of installing solar panels, DC Water thinks it can achieve this lofty goal.  If everyone uses water more consciously and tries to alleviate polluting through trash and water runoff we can make D.C.’s rivers a major highlight of the city.

-Matt Fleming, Smithsonian Gardens Horticulturist 

December 3, 2013 at 6:30 am Leave a comment

Watering Well: Irrigation Tips for Your Garden

Now as summer approaches we anticipate getting back into the garden and tending to the lawn. There is one element of gardening that should not be overlooked and that is getting your irrigation system tuned up for the season. Fully automated irrigation systems afford gardeners the convenience of not having to drag water hoses all over their property.

Sean Jones, Folger Rose Garden. Smithsonian Gardens.

Sean Jones, Folger Rose Garden. Smithsonian Gardens.

Energize your system’s mainline slowly and check the grounds for wet areas. This is a good way to find any leaks in your mainline and repair them before money has been wasted on an undetected leak. Here are a few easy things you can do to ensure that your system is in proper working order which can also save you time and money:

  • Check the irrigation timer and adjust any previous programs that may have been input from last season as necessary. With seasonal changes come programming changes. Your plants’ water requirements are going to differ from what they were in the fall when you winterized your system. You might actually use a lot less water at the beginning of the season which can translate directly into savings on your water bill.
  • Once you have done these things, run each individual zone and check for coverage. This may require changing and/or adjusting heads and nozzles. Making these changes can save you money. Sometimes we don’t know there are coverage issues until we see failing plants at which point it means replacing costly plant material.
  • With newer technologies and advanced irrigation product design available, you may want to consider changing out older irrigation components for newer products. The irrigation industry has made many advances, especially in the area of water conservation.

Remember that irrigation is a watering supplement. Don’t overwater your plants. Give them time to become thirsty; this will help build a healthy root system because the roots will grow deep looking for water.

These are just a few suggestions that you can undertake to do your part to help conserve water resources and – at the same time – save yourself some money.

-Sean Jones, Irrigation Engineer

April 29, 2013 at 8:00 am Leave a comment


Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 115 other followers

April 2014
M T W T F S S
« Mar    
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
282930  

Visit our Website!

Recent Posts


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 115 other followers

%d bloggers like this: