On August 23, members of NACWA’s staff ventured across the Potomac River to tour the Alexandria Renew Enterprises (AlexRenew) facility, which serves a population of nearly 300,000 and treats 13 billion gallons per year. The group had two immediate observations: the relatively small footprint of the plant and the almost imperceptible smell of the treatment process. According to our tour guides, the footprint of the plant has remained relatively unchanged since the 1950s, despite population growth. AlexRenew has accommodated growth and the addition of new facilities by expanding underground; for example, NACWA toured the nutrient management facility that is underneath an on-site community athletic field.
The tour explored some of the many advanced technologies in use at the AlexRenew facility. First, the tour stopped at the plant’s control room that utilizes real-time technology to provide updates on the plant’s numerous pump stations and digesters and is highly automated to maximize control and safety. After passing through the secondary settling tanks, the tour explored the pretreatment facility, which houses the advanced Anammox treatment process. According to our guides, AlexRenew was the first facility in the United States to utilize the Anammox microbe treatment – also known as red bugs- to manage ammonia and nitrogen, which has the potential to create up to 25 percent savings on energy and chemicals when compared to conventional wastewater cleaning processes.
NACWA would like to thank our tour guides and all the individuals at AlexRenew for the excellent tour and all the work they do protecting public health and improving water quality.