Thursday, October 10, 2013

Open House at Alexandria ReNew

Alexandria Renew Enterprises, (AlexRenew) that was formerly known as the Alexandria Sanitation Authority will be holding an open house on Saturday, October 12th from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM at its campus on 1500 Eisenhower Avenue. AlexRenew operates one of the most advanced wastewater reclamation facilities in the United States; it manages to treat sewage a few blocks west of Old Town almost unnoticed on a 35-acre site. They process an average of 13.5 billion gallons of wastewater every year, serving about 350,000 people in the City of Alexandria and part of Fairfax County without the neighbors being constantly reminded of their existence by the typical sewage plant stench. AlexRenew has spent millions of dollars on an order treatment removal system that makes them very good neighbors.

Alexandria Renew will show visitors how it cleans dirty water to its highest standards, turning it into clean, renewable and sustainable natural resources that can be used for a variety of safe and accepted purposes. AlexRenew removes over 90% of the nitrogen and close to 100% of the phosphorus from the sewage water coming into the plant. Those nutrients are what fuel the growth of algae blooms in the waterways and are the two of the three pollution targets of the Chesapeake Bay pollution diet mandated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Instead, AlexRenew nutrients in the removed solids and converts them into pathogen-free renewable material called Class A Exceptional Quality Biosolids.

The solids removed from the sewage liquid are thickened and dewater using centrifuges and then pasteurized at 158 degrees Fahrenheit for an extended period of time to kill all the pathogens. AlexRenew treats their sludge to remove not only pathogens, but also heavy metals and other contaminants to produce Class A Exceptional Quality bio-solids. This environmentally-friendly product is provided to farmers in Virginia as a nutrient-rich fertilizer. Some of the Class A Exceptional Quality Biosolids gets sent to a mulch facility where they get combined with wood fines, creating a soil amendment product that they are calling “George’s Old Town Blend” and is typically given away free at their open house to consumers, though there are plans to sell the product at some time in the future. At the open house you can see the garden where they planted with and without George’s Old Town Blend.

Annually AlexRenew reuses over 1.3 billion gallons of their own treated effluent for plant maintenance and cleaning – this saves AlexRenew almost $3 million in purchased water expenses and reduces using finished drinking water for grounds watering and cleaning. AlexRenew also uses their on-site generated methane gas that is created by the bacteria in the digesters. AlexRenew generated and captured close to 130 million cubic feet of renewable methane gas last year enough methane to heat 793 homes for a year. Their neighbors are aware that AlexRenew is undergoing an expansion, installing a new 18-million gallon wastewater storage tank that when completed with be underground and topped by a soccer field. This storage tank is part of AlexRenew’s major upgrade, which is needed to meet even more stringent environmental regulations and the Chesapeake Bay TMDL. Stop by, I plan to.

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