Why A Plan To Keep Sewage Out Of The Potomac Was On The Chopping Block

Feb 24, 2020

D.C. has been making progress cleaning up the Anacostia and Potomac rivers, to the point where those long-polluted waterways could soon be safe to swim in. But recently, management at D.C.’s water and sewer authority has been considering scrapping a major part of the cleanup project, potentially continuing to dump more than 600 million gallons of sewage into the Potomac each year, for years to come.

The court-mandated project is known as Clean Rivers, and it’s one of the biggest — and priciest — infrastructure projects in the city since Metro was built. It consists of 18 miles of tunnels; they’re wider than Metro tunnels, and deeper underground. The whole project has a price tag of $2.7 billion. The vast majority of that is being paid for by residents with a Clean Rivers fee — currently $21 a month (about a fifth of the average residential water bill).

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