Our History


Our History

AlexRenew (formerly Alexandria Sanitation Authority) was created in 1952 to build, operate and maintain a new sewage treatment system to serve Alexandria and parts of Fairfax County, which made good engineering and financial sense. At that time, the Potomac River was choked with raw sewage, which posed a severe health threat to the community. We haven’t stopped protecting our community’s health and the environment since our first day of plant operation in July 1956.

Our History

AlexRenew History Then Photo

From the very beginning, AlexRenew was a solution, a mission, and a commitment. What began as a goal to reduce water pollution in the Potomac River turned into a focused effort to greatly improve water quality over time, and evolved into a lifetime promise to our community of Alexandria to always provide a public health service and beyond. 

It might be hard to imagine, but in 1952, the National Capital region dumped its waste directly into the Potomac River. The river was choked with raw sewage, posing a public health threat from cholera, hepatitis, dysentery, and other diseases associated with untreated sewage. The following video by the Izaak Walton League shows the impact of the sewage on the Potomac River during that time. 

In 1952, the Alexandria City Council created the Alexandria Sanitation Authority (ASA), to build, operate, and maintain a new sewage treatment system to serve the City and parts of Fairfax County, which made good engineering and financial sense.


AlexRenew Historical Timeline 

1800s - First sewer system installed in the City of Alexandria. Click here to read more about Alexandria's early sewer history.

1948 - Congress passes Federal Water Pollution Control Act.

1952 - Alexandria City Council creates the Alexandria Sanitation Authority (ASA), on of the first authorities in the Commonwealth.

1956 - ASA plant goes into operation, treating sewage 24/7/365.

1970 - First Earth Day. Pollution-fueled algae in the Chesapeake Bay create “dead zones.”

1971 - VA’s Potomac Embayment standards limit the amount of pollution in water discharges.

1972 - Clean Water Act enacted. ASA begins first upgrade and expansion.

1984 - ASA completes construction of expansion and upgrade to advanced wastewater treatment.

1987 - Chesapeake Bay Agreement signed to reduce nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment in the Chesapeake.

1999 - ASA begins construction to upgrade and meet new Commonwealth and regional standards to protect the Chesapeake Bay.

2002-2003 - Initial operation of nitrogen system begins to reduce algae blooms in local waterways. Nitrogen discharge from our treatment plant was reduced by 80%.

2005 - VA issues regulations requiring greater reduction of nitrogen discharge. ASA completes full facility upgrade.

2009 - Work begins on State-of-the-Art Nitrogen Upgrade Program (SANUP).

2012 - On Earth Day 2012, Alexandria Sanitation Authority became Alexandria Renew Enterprises to reflect our new, broader vision to serve as a water resource recovery facility.

2017 - AlexRenew's Environmental Center is certified LEED Platinum.

2017 – The Virginia General Assembly passes legislation requiring the City of Alexandria to remediate its combined sewer system by reducing discharges of sewage mixed with rainwater to the Potomac River, Hooffs Run, and Hunting Creek. 

2018 – The Alexandria City Council transfers ownership of the four sewer outfalls to AlexRenew and with the transfer, AlexRenew takes over ownership of the implementation of the proposed plan to remediate the combined sewer system. The plan is rebranded as RiverRenew.

2018 – NACWA honors AlexRenew with its Excellence in Management Platinum Recognition.

2020 – AlexRenew gives notice to proceed on the contract to construct the RiverRenew Tunnel Project, the largest project in the RiverRenew Program. The project includes the construction of the two-mile-long sewer Waterfront Tunnel, the Hooffs Run Interceptor pipeline, diversion facilities, and pumping stations, to prevent millions of gallons of combined sewage from flowing into local rivers and streams.  

2021 – AlexRenew breaks ground on the Waterfront Tunnel phase of RiverRenew. 

2023 – Alexandria Renew Enterprises rebrands to AlexRenew. 

2024 – Hazel the Tunnel Boring Machine completes construction of the Waterfront Tunnel. 

Today, our award-winning facility is a model for safe, innovative wastewater treatment. Our team is proud to serve over 300,000 people in the City of Alexandria and parts of Fairfax County by cleaning over 13 billion gallons of wastewater every year.