Thursday, June 27, 2019

The Future of Plastics

The future of “plastic” materials may be happening in Chesterfield County, Virginia in the former DuPont plant. A new company, Mari Signum began scale up from pilot to full scale production of chitin from shrimp shells using a new process licensed from University of Alabama chemist, Robin Rogers, who found a way to take shrimp shell, dissolve the chitin directly and pull it away from all the impurities. Dr. Rogers is a member of the Board, and owner and adviser to the company.

Found in the exoskeletons of arthropods (shrimp, crab, lobster, insects), chitin is the second most abundant organic polymer in nature, cellulose is the most abundant. Chitin can be used as a substitute for plastics in food packaging or bottles and for foam products, microbeads and other application that have made plastics so ubiquidous.

Because chitin biodegrades in just a few weeks or months it would solve the growing problem we are now seeing with plastics that are polluting more and more of our planet. Scientists estimated that more than 9,000 million metric tons of virgin plastics have been produced since the dawn of the age of plastics. Of all that material only around 9% has been recycled, 12% was incinerated, and 79% was accumulated in landfills or the natural environment including our oceans. The amount of plastic waste keeps growing. Replacing some or most plastics with chitin may be one or even the solution.

The chitin and its derivative chitosan, offers many of plastic’s desirable properties and takes only weeks or months to biodegrade, rather than centuries that petroleum based polymers take to degrade. Chitin’s versatile properties have been known for a long time, and the substance is commercially extracted from shells in China and India. The problem is that the conventional method of extracting chitin breaks the polymer into small pieces and requires using toxic chemicals such as hydrochloric acid and the methods have never been permitted in the United States and the resultant material was not usable for food or drink packaging of other sensitive uses.

Using Dr. Rogers process, Mari Signum produces a sustainable source of premium quality chitin that have application to numerous end markets uses. Unlike all other global chitin producers, Mari Signum / Dr. Rogers process is sustainable and uses an ionic liquid to separate chitin from shells and create a pristine chitin molecule. An ionic liquid is a one in which no electrons are shared but the attraction between a positively charged ion, called a cation, and negatively charged ion, or anion, holds them together. Thousands of repeating sugar units in chitin entangle themselves via hydrogen bonds, and neither water nor most organic solvents can penetrate that network. Rogers solved that problem by useing 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium acetate. This ionic liquid belongs to the lowest chemical toxicity category, according to United Nations standards and is mostly vinegar.

Mari Signum’s Richmond, Va. location is the only chitin production facility in the United States and stands ready to be at the forefront of a fundamental reshaping of plastic packaging and plastics in general; the potential to transform global plastic packaging material market that is about $100-$125 billon annually and usher in the New Plastics Economy with Richmond, Virginia at its center.

For more information see Science News Magazine issue: Vol. 195, No. 11, June 22, 2019, p. 18

Or the Mari Signum web site

Monday, June 24, 2019

Being a Well Owner

The Private Well Class program is a collaboration between the Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP) and the Illinois State Water Survey at the University of Illinois with funding from the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency. They have continuing education well classes and webinars that are free and can be accessed at The following was gleaned from a presentation made by Steve Wilson the Director of the program and a groundwater hydrologist.

Well owners are individually responsible for managing their water supply. Private wells are not regulated. Many contaminants are colorless, odorless and tasteless, while some contaminants only effect taste or odor. As a result private wells can be safe and great tasting, or contaminated and only testing for a broad range of substances will enable you to tell the difference. On top of that, groundwater quality can change over time. You should test your well annually.

State and local government requirements for private well water testing are rare and inconsistent; the responsibility to ensure safe drinking water remains with the property owner. Only one state, New Jersey requires the testing of private wells before a property containing a private well is sole. The New Jersey Private Well Testing Act (PWTA) went into effect in September 2002. The PWTA is a consumer information law that requires sellers (or buyers) of property with wells in NJ to test the untreated ground water for a variety of water quality parameters, including 32 of human health concern, and to review the test results prior to closing of the sale. However, there is no requirement for homeowners not engaged in a sale to test their own water. That is your responsibility and your choice.

If you have a well (or are thinking of buying a house with a well) the first get a copy of the well log and then you need to understand what the well log tells you. The well log or as it’s called in Virginia the Water Well Completion Report usually contains information like the type of well, depth, geology, casing, screening, water level and recharge rate. Understanding the geology is very important to understanding your water quality. The geology can inform you of the likely naturally occurring contaminants present in the groundwater (like iron, manganese, arsenic, calcium carbonate) and the water quality issues the contaminants create. Geology can also inform you of the vulnerability to contaminants. You also need to test for man-made contaminants that are likely to have impacted the groundwater. Possible sources of groundwater contamination:
  • Leaks and spills of petroleum products from leaking fuel tanks (both heating oil and gas and diesel fuel tanks), pipelines, and spills and releases. Motor oil can also pose a threat to groundwater. It is estimated that over 4 million gallons of used oil are disposed of improperly by do it yourself oil changer in Virginia each year. Improper disposal can impact groundwater.
  • Military installations have historically used solvents as degreasing agents for machinery and equipment, disposed of waste on site, have had underground pipelines associated with fueling operations, and fuels storage systems. These have often been large quantity operations and can result in significant impact to groundwater especially where the aquifer is unconfined.
  • A landfill is a site where trash and garbage are disposed of. Historically, mixed waste was simply buried and this resulted in contaminated leachate impacting groundwater. Leachate is the liquid formed when rainwater and snow melt filter or percolate through buried refuse. If the leachate is not captured and treated it can contaminate groundwater. It is reported that a quarter of CERCLA (Superfund) sites are old landfills.
  • Coal ash, the remainder left after coal is burned to generate electricity, is buried or impounded near many water bodies. Thermoelectric power generation requires water for cooling, so these plant typically are located adjacent to rivers and other surface water bodies, but also have the ability to impact groundwater.
  • Onsite Sewage Disposal Systems both traditional septic and AOSS.
  • Cesspools, which directly disposed of untreated sewage wastewater into pits, are no longer permitted in Virginia.
  • Improperly abandoned wells present a pathway for direct contamination of the aquifer.
  • Excessive use of fertilizers and pesticides or improper application or disposal of these substances in agriculture or landscaping can contaminate groundwater.
  • Improper management, storage and disposal of animal waste from manure piles, animal waste lagoons and feedlots can contaminate groundwater with biological contaminates and nitrate. In southwestern Virginia coal mining can impact groundwater with acidic runoff. Tailing ponds used to dispose of mining waste can be a source of groundwater contamination. Mining is often associated with acidic impacts to groundwater.
  • Finally, coastal areas can be affected by saltwater intrusion caused by heavy pumping of the groundwater, a decrease in recharge or an increase in sea level.
The costs of well ownership are not insignificant. Drilling/ replacing a well can cost $10,000-$20,000 or more. Well construction standards and codes have changed significantly over the last 30 years. In Virginia well construction standards went into effect in 1992. At that time all existing wells were grandfathered, Many wells still in use and existence are in pits or were hand dug and are subject to surface contamination, rodents, and other pests. These wells are not sanitary or safe and should be replaced or at the very least brought up to code.

Well equipment needs to be maintained and replaced. This can cost hundreds to thousands of dollars. Even the well itself with eventually wear out. The big ticket items are the pump and pressure tank. Submersible pumps used in modern drilled wells are more efficient than older style jet pumps and should last longer, but silt, sand, and excessive mineral content can impact their life. There really is not good data on equipment life in private well market, most of the data is from light industrial and community systems and the life of the single family home pump is extrapolated from that and equipment tests. A submersible pump operating in low-sediment water may have a 15 year life while the same pump in high sediment water and without adequate sediment and check valve protection may fail in 4 to 6 years. About 10% of the pumps in my neighborhood had failed in the first 8 years and another 10% have had component failure requiring a repair in that time. The submersible pump in my well was designed for 20,000 hours of operation. If it is still operating at 17 years old, I estimate that it owes me nothing and should be replaced. It is 14 years old now. Make sure you have the money on hand to repair you well and water system when the time comes.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

What to Know When Buying a Home with a Well and Septic System

Virginia Tech in conjunction with the Virginia Department of Health have just put out a new video "What to Know When Buying a Home with a Well and Septic System." The video was written and narrated by Erin Ling of the Virginia Household Water Quality Program at Virginia Tech. It is the U-tube video link above, and is worth while just to get some well information and background. It has some really useful information about owning a well. 

About 21% of homes in Virginia get their drinking water from a private well, and homes with wells have septic systems. Wells in Virginia are the owner's responsibility. Regulations from the Virginia Department of Health only address the constructions of wells; and  those regulations date only to 1992. There are no regulations for the maintenance or testing of wells. Though there are no Virginia regulations to test well water before a sale,  typically mortgage lender require testing for bacteria for a mortgage to be approved. Testing a well for coliform bacteria and E. coli are not enough to make sure that you have a good source of drinking water for a home. Quite frankly, it is fairly easy to cheat the bacteria test.

Virginia is a "buyer beware" state. Any well,  groundwater or septic problems not detected by the buyer during the sale process become the  home buyer's problem upon closing the sale. There is no legal recourse back to the seller. Virginia Tech recommends that buyers should engage a licensed well contractor to assess the well and a licensed septic installer/service company to assess the septic system. As part of the assessment, the home buyer should obtain a copy of the "Water Well Completion Report" and the septic system (or AOSS) repair/permit history and the history of septic tank pump-outs. This information is on file at the local health department. 

In addition, the home buyer should also asses any water treatment systems in the home to understand what the treatment equipment does, the condition of the equipment and the underlying water problems that the equipment was purchased to solve. At the very least, the buyer should test the well water for Total coliform, E. coli, nitrate, lead, iron, pH, hardness, and residual chlorine (to see if the well was recently chlorine shocked to eliminate chloroform bacteria). Virginia accredits water testing laboratories, and there are also EPA accredited laboratories. Also, smell and taste the water. If it doesn't smell or taste good you may not want to buy the house. It is important to test the water both before any treatment equipment and after. While most contaminates can be addressed using water treatment systems, there are trade offs that you might not want to make. For a set of rules for what properties may not be worth buying see "10 Rules for Buying a Home with a Well and Septic System."

A professional septic system inspection should include reviewing :
  • Pumping and maintenance records (now available online for registered inspectors from the Virginia Health Department system, VDH); 
  • The age of the septic system and general condition of the system and soils. (They typical life of a system is 15-40 years and you want to know how close you might be to needing to replace the system); 
  • Sludge levels and scum thickness in the tank; 
  • Signs of leakage, such as low water levels in the tank; 
  • Signs of backup, such as staining in the tank above the outlet pipe or dark sediment in household toilets; 
  • Integrity of the tank, inlet, and outlet pipes; 
  • The drainfield, for signs of system failure like standing water or surfacing sewage; (Note that in Fairfax and some other localities it is common to have two drainfields that are rotated every 6 months. Check them both.) 
  • The distribution box should be checked to make sure drain lines are receiving equal flow; nd 
  • Available records at the VDH district office should be checked, to make sure the system complies with local regulations regarding function and location and was certified. 

Monday, June 17, 2019

Chesapeake Bay Dead Zone Forecast

Right behind the NOAA announcement for the Gulf dead zone last week, came the forecast for the Chesapeake Bay dead zone. Scientists from the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science and the University of Michigan are forecasting that this summer’s Chesapeake Bay hypoxic or dead zone is expected to be about 2.1 cubic miles, while the volume of water with no oxygen is predicted to be between 0.49 and 0.63 cubic miles during early and late summer. If accurate, this is one of the four largest dead zones in the past 20 years. The 2019 forecast is due to significantly above average rainfall last fall and this spring that have produced above average river flows. 

According to the report’s co-author Jeremy Testa of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. “The high flows observed this spring, in combination with very high flows late last fall, are expected to result in large volumes of hypoxic and anoxic water.”

Dead zones have become a yearly occurrence in the Chesapeake Bay and other estuaries. Dead zones form in summers when higher temperatures reduce the oxygen holding capacity of the water, the air is still and especially in years of heavy rains that carry excess nutrient pollution from cities and farms. The excess nutrient pollution combined with mild weather encourages the explosive growth of phytoplankton, a single-celled algae. When there is excessive growth of algae the light is chocked out and the algae die and fall from the warmer fresh water into the colder sea water. The phytoplankton is decomposed by bacteria, which consumes the already depleted oxygen in the lower salt level, leaving dead oysters, clams, fish and crabs in their wake.

Spring rainfall plays an important role in determining the size of the Chesapeake Bay “dead zone.” This year, exceptionally high spring rainfall and streamflow carried nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment to the Chesapeake Bay in amounts above the long-term average, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), which provides the nitrogen-loading data used to generate the annual hypoxia forecast. The USGS reports that this past spring the Susquehanna River delivered 102.6 million pounds of nitrogen into the Chesapeake Bay. The Potomac River, as measured near Washington, D.C., supplied an additional 47.7 million pounds of nitrogen.

These measured nitrogen levels are well-above the long-term averages of 80.6 million pounds from the Susquehanna and 31.8 million pounds from the Potomac. Loads from the Susquehanna have not been this high since 2011 and are due to an extent to the Conowingo Dam’s sediment reservoir is nearly full. There are around 200 million tons of sediment, nutrients, and other pollutants from the Susquehanna River trapped behind the dam and it can no longer trap additional sediment. What arrives in the Susquehanna River is delivered to the Chesapeake Bay. Pennsylvania has been slow to implement agricultural best management practices to control nitrogen pollution.

In a wedge shaped estuary such as Chesapeake Bay where the layers of fresh and salt water are not well mixed, there are several sources of dissolved oxygen. The most important is the atmosphere. At sea level, air contains about 21% oxygen, while the Bay’s waters contain only a small fraction of a percent. This large difference between the amount of oxygen results in oxygen naturally dissolving into the water. This process is further enhanced by the wind, which mixes the surface of the water. The strong winds associated with last summer’s storms served to deliver additional oxygen and prevent the Dead Zone from reaching the projected level.

The dead zone forecast is based on models developed at the University of Michigan and the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, with funding provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and data generated by the USGS and Maryland Department of Natural Resources will begin conduct bimonthly Chesapeake Bay water quality monitoring cruises June through August to measure and track Bay summer dead zone. Results can be found on the Department's Eyes on the Bay website .

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Big Dead Zone Forecast for Gulf

Gulf Dead Zone 2017 from EPA

The 2019 NOAA forecast calls for an above average dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico this summer. Scientists are predicting that the dead zone will cover a 7,829 square miles much larger than the 5-year average measured size of 5,770 square miles, but less than the 2017 record of 8,776 square miles. The prediction model uses the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) river flow and nutrient data.

Dead zones are a yearly occurrence in the Gulf of Mexico and other estuaries. Dead zones form in summers when higher temperatures reduce the oxygen holding capacity of the water, the air is still and especially in years of heavy rains that carry excess nutrient pollution from cities and farms. The excess nutrient pollution combined with mild weather encourages the explosive growth of phytoplankton, which is a single-celled algae. While the phytoplankton produces oxygen during photosynthesis, when there is excessive growth of algae the light is chocked out and the algae die and fall from the warmer fresh water into the colder sea water. The phytoplankton is decomposed by bacteria, which consumes the already depleted oxygen in the lower salt level, leaving dead marine life in their wake.

A major factor contributing to the large dead zone this year is the abnormally high amount of spring rainfall in many parts of the Mississippi River watershed, which led to flooding that carried soil and nutrients flowing to the Gulf of Mexico. This past May, the USGS reported the flow from the Mississippi and Atchafalaya rivers was about 67% above the long-term average between 1980 and 2018. USGS estimates that this larger-than average river discharge carried 156,000 metric tons of nitrate and 25,300 metric tons of phosphorus into the Gulf of Mexico in May alone. These nitrate loads were about 18% above the long-term average, and phosphorus loads were about 49% above the long-term average. The USGS operates more than 3,000 real-time stream gauges, 50 real-time nitrate sensors, and 35 long-term monitoring sites throughout the Mississippi-Atchafalaya watershed, which drains all rivers and streams in parts or all of 31 states and 2 Canadian provinces into the Gulf of Mexico.

While nutrient inputs to the Gulf of Mexico vary from year to year because of natural swings in precipitation and runoff, USGS also tracks longer-term gradual changes in nitrate and phosphorus loading into the Gulf of Mexico from the Mississippi River. “Long-term monitoring of the country's streams and rivers by the USGS has shown that while nitrogen loading into some other coastal estuaries has been decreasing, that is not the case in the Gulf of Mexico," said Don Cline, associate director for the USGS Water Resources Mission Area. “The Mississippi River/Gulf of Mexico Watershed Nutrient Task Force, an EPA group working to reduce the Gulf dead zone through nutrient reductions within the Mississippi River watershed, has set a 5-year average measured size target of 1,900 square miles.

NOAA issues a dead zone forecast each year; the forecast assumes typical coastal weather conditions, but the measured dead zone size could be very different. The measured size of the Dead Zone in August could be disrupted by major wind events, hurricanes and tropical storms which mix ocean waters. This happened in 2018 in the Gulf of Mexico and our own Chesapeake Bay. A NOAA-supported monitoring survey will confirm the size of the 2019 Gulf dead zone in early August.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Silver Lake and Tough Mudder

On the weekend of June 1 and 2, 2019 the Tough Mudder came to Silver Lake in Haymarket. In the short numer of years since Tough Mudder events began springing up around the country and the broader world, more than a million people have reportedly taken part. The event is marketed to young professional cubicle dwellers and military. Serious injuries are rare, and participants are warned and sign extensive liability waivers. A level of risk is woven into the appeal- the victory of completing the 8-10 mile course filled with man-made obstacles. For participants they can be joyous experiences.

I assume people who participated had  loads of fun. I heard variously that there were around 5,000-9,500 participants. However, there has been a loud outcry from the Haymarket community about the inappropriate use of Silver Lake Park and damage to the Resource Protected Area (RPA) around the lake park. Supervisor Pete Candland visited the entire course route before the event to make sure the Parks Department, Department of Environmental Services and Tough Mudder directors were coordinating closely and those particularly sensitive areas; the wetland and stream crossing, were bypassed. I am assured by PW Environmental Services that a couple of changes in the course were made to comply with their requests.

The race course ran through the trail at Silver Lake Park, the connecting Rainbow Riding Center property, and an adjacent private landowner’s property. All the excavated areas were in old farm fields and open lawn areas and were being filled, straw laid and seeded when Environmental Services went out to respond to resident complaints last Wednesday after the event. As you can see on the map below taken from the Prince William County Mapper much of the area around Silver Lake is RPA (the light green), but have been maintained as mowed grass.

While RPA’s are the corridors of environmentally sensitive land that lie along streams, rivers, lakes, ponds and other waterways. In their natural vegetated condition, RPA’s protect water quality by filtering pollutants out of storm water runoff, reduce the volume of storm water runoff and prevent erosion. 

Little of these environmental services were being performed by the mowed grass that existed around most of Silver Lake; and adding mud pits and lots of event participants resulted in what appeared to be a huge mess on Tuesday morning. Hopefully, the grounds of the park will recover in short order. Even with the pits gone and grass restored too many pollutants are carried in the stormwater runoff from the bare or even grassed field as it regrows over the summer. 
rotate the Tought Mudder map to ligh up with the county map
Tough Mudder at Silver Lake Park was a permitted temporary special event that was allowed by the Parks Department in compliance with County zoning ordinances. It should not happen again at this location. It is the wrong event for this location which was proffered for passive use only. In addition, it will take the better part of a year for the disturbed areas to recover enough to provide any filtering of stormwater. Continually, disturbing the land will prevent the RPA from protecting the waters within the Chesapeake watershed. 

The  Prince William Conservation Alliance is pushing to place Silver Lake into a conservation easement, which is a legal agreement that permanently restricts certain uses of the land to protect its conservation values. We need to restore the RPA to its natural state. A naturally vegetated RPA serves to remove pollutants from stormwater runoff. A vegetated RPA acts as a protector, filter and a system to change pollutants into useful substances.

All waters in Prince William County eventually flow into the Chesapeake Bay. In 1990 Prince William County enacted stringent local requirements to protect the RPA to safeguard the Chesapeake Bay as required under the Chesapeake Bay Act. The RPA needs to be restored to its natural state to support the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay. 

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Monterey Church Panning Hearing

Monterey Church has requested a special use permit to build a church on a ±16.57-acre site zoned A-1, Agricultural. Development of the site is planned in phases; Phase I will include a ±30,000-square-foot building with a 400-seat capacity, and Phase II will include a ±25,000-square-foot expansion, with a 500-seat capacity. Total capacity of the development equates to a ±55,000-square-foot building with 900 seats and related paved parking. Because the land is in the Rural Crescent, the church will require a special use permit. A public hearing before the Planning Commission has been advertised for June 12, 2019.

The site is located at 9514 Auburn Road and is located on the west side of Auburn Road, approximately 400 feet south of the intersection of Vint Hill Road and Auburn Road. The church proposes to cover more than 50% of the land area with buildings and parking for 380 cars. In addition, the site is near to the protected area for the tributaries of Lake Manassas and is ±1,182 feet north of the Fauquier County line.
from PW Mapper -The county line is the dash in the lower left
The Rural Crescent depends on groundwater as the sole water supply for all the existing and future residents, and Monterey Church will depend on an on-site well (or wells) for water supply and septic for sewage. How any proposed land use will impact water and groundwater sustainability should be one of the first questions asked, but is not considered in the application for the special use permit. The right of existing property owners to their water is primary and valuable and should not be compromised or impaired. Because there are natural fluctuations in groundwater levels it is easy to mask or ignore signs of the beginnings of destruction of the water resources that we depend on. Changing the use of the land, covering it with buildings, driveways, roads, walkway and other impervious surfaces will change the hydrology of the site reducing groundwater recharge in the surrounding area. It is estimated that groundwater recharge will be reduced around 60%. Once the hydrology is destroyed by development, it cannot be easily restored, if at all.

While groundwater is a renewable resource it is NOT unlimited. The sad truth is that we do not know how much water we have in the Culpeper basin, nor do we know what the sustainable rate of ground water use is. We can only hope that the Culpepper Basin is adequate to sustain the rural crescent in the next drought, but the USGS tells us that our groundwater basin is under stress. Sustainability of groundwater is hyper-local. Before a special use permit is granted we need to know if the current and planned use of our groundwater is sustainable even in drought years; and understand how ground cover by roads, parking lots and buildings will impact groundwater recharge and what level of groundwater withdrawals are sustainable on site and in the vicinity to determine if a proposed additional use of groundwater is sustainable before it is granted.

The proposed church and school will cover over 50% of the land with buildings, parking, walkway and other impervious surfaces that will change the hydrology of the site reducing ground water recharge in the area around the church at the same time that the church will increase groundwater use. With reduced groundwater recharge in the immediate area of the church from all the paving, there is a real possibility that the pumping from the church will create a large cone of depression to draw water from adjacent properties or greater depth that could cause nearby existing wells to go dry, and people will have homes without water –worthless. This is a risk that has not been examined, studied or modeled. The special use permit should not be granted without first studying the impact to water resources.

Fauquier County, less than 1,200 feet away is engaged in a detailed groundwater study designed by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and spearheaded by the USGS and Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to study the groundwater availability which is the source of most of the County’s water supply. The Fauquier County determined that they need a broad understanding of Fauquier County’s groundwater resources and engaged a study that is to be completed at the end of the second quarter in 2021. It would be irresponsible of Prince William County to approve the requested special use permit without first studying the impact of this use on water resources.
The proposed church site and the adjacent development in Fauquier County

Monday, June 3, 2019

Loudoun Water Opens Water Treatment Plant

On Tuesday, May 21, 2019 Loudoun Water held the formal opening ceremony for their Trap Rock Water Treatment Facility, Virginia’s most advanced water treatment plant. The Trap Rock Water Treatment Facility cost $130 million and is located south of Leesburg along the Dulles Greenway. The Trap Rock plant treats water drawn Potomac River, transports it through a 6-mile underground pipeline and now cleans it in the commonwealth’s only two-step ozone treatment system. 
from Loudoun Water 

Loudoun Water provides drinking water and wastewater services to over 200,000 people in Loudoun County. Loudoun County is one of the fastest growing counties in the United States with a total population of 398,000 in 2017. Maximum day water demands are projected to grow from the current 40 million gallons per day to 90 million gallons per day by 2040. Loudoun’s water has been supplied by the Beaverdam and Goose Creek reservoirs (and the Goose Creek water treatment plant) which were owned until recently by Fairfax City, and from Fairfax County, which pulled water from the Potomac River, treated it and sold it to Loudoun Water. Five years ago Loudoun Water purchase all the Fairfax county owned water assets in Loudoun County and began negotiations to draw water directly from the Potomac River.

With the completion of the Potomac River water intake and pumping station and the Trap Rock Water Treatment Plant for the first time Loudoun Water is directly tapping the Potomac River to meet their water demands. The Potomac River is the primary water supply source for the Washington metropolitan area providing almost 95% of the drinking water to around 6 million people at home or in their workplaces. River water is drawn by the Washington Aqueduct Division of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (WAD), the Fairfax County Water Authority (FCWA), the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC), and City of Rockville and now by Loudoun Water. 
from Loudoun Water

Though the population of the Washington metropolitan area has grown significantly since 1990 (from 3.9 million to 6.0 million), over the same period the water use in the region has remained fairly constant. The average daily water demand is forecast to be under 500 million gallons a day. Per capita water use has not only fallen in our region, but throughout the United States. Nonetheless with continued population growth and climate change is necessary that the region increase their water storage.

The Potomac River flow fluctuates with season and weather. The Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin (ICPRB) helps the water companies manage the river’s water resources. The ICPRB was born out of the severe and extended drought in the 1960's when water withdrawals by the three major water companies from the Potomac reduced flows to such an extent that the River practically ran dry, leaving only mud between Great Falls and the tidal river. Ultimately (after more than a decade) the ICPRB was created and the Jennings Randolph Reservoir was built to manage the use of the Potomac River and to ensure that there is enough flow for essential services like wastewater assimilation and habitat maintenance. The ICPRB monitors river flows and water withdrawals to ensure the 100 million gallons per day minimum flow at Little Falls.

Loudoun Water has joined in the Low Flow Allocation Agreement (LFAA), which allocates the amount of water each supplier can withdraw from the Potomac River in the event that total flow is not sufficient to meet all needs and the Water Supply Coordination Agreement (WSCA), which provides for coordinated operations during periods of low flow and regular planning studies managed by the ICPRB. In addition, this year, Loudoun Water will open the first phase of it’s water banking system. Loudoun Water will convert former Luck Stone quarries to storage reservoirs. The first (opening this year) will hold 1 billion gallons for emergency use; ultimately 8 billion gallons will be stored in quarries now mined by Luck Stone north of the treatment plant.