When it comes to improving the health of local waterways – particularly the Potomac River – change does not typically happen quickly. But 2017 was a year that demonstrated the progress we are making in keeping our local waterways healthy.
Earlier in the year, the Chesapeake Bay Program (CBP) released its annual report on the environmental health and restoration of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, noting the progress that has been made thanks to “citizens, businesses and governments all doing their part to reduce pollution and restore water quality.” Wastewater utilities in the region have helped contribute to that success by being 10 years ahead of their respective pollution reduction goals. In late 2017, CBP shared the news that estimated water quality in the tidal Chesapeake Bay has reached a near-record high, which is good news for all who are working to improve the quality of the Chesapeake Bay.
At AlexRenew, we are doing our part by investing in facilities and technologies that allow us to treat and clean water effectively. AlexRenew’s State-of-the-Art Nitrogen Upgrade Program (SANUP) has been critical in reducing the amount of harmful nutrients like nitrogen, which can cause algae blooms, into our waterways. While it was completed in 2016, the Water Environment Federation presented AlexRenew its Project Excellence Award for SANUP in 2017. SANUP also became the first utility in the United States to implement a full-scale mainstream deammonification system and the first utility in the world to use this technology to meet very low nitrogen limits.
But transforming Alexandria’s dirty water goes beyond high-tech tools, it also includes engaging those in our community so that they can grow their own personal connection with our local waterways.
In May, we hosted Water Discovery Day, a free family-focused event featuring water workshops, local exhibitors and a range of activities for all ages. Once the event kicked off, AlexRenew’s Environmental Center was flooded with families whose children were darting back and forth between the center’s interactive exhibits and fish tank, learning about their role in Alexandria’s water cycle.
Later in the year, AlexRenew participated in Imagine a Day Without Water, a nationwide day of education and advocacy about the value of water. Partnering with Virginia American Water, we hosted a pop-up event at the King Street Metro Station Tunnel where we shared water’s value to all of us while giving away free donuts and coffee from Sugar Shack Donuts. We also produced a series of videos featuring local businesses sharing how important water is to their day-to-day function!
We look forward to meeting the challenges of 2018 and working with all those in our local community to continue making our waterways healthy for generations to come.