Sunday, January 30, 2022

Dominion Tries Again to Get Possum Point Solution

There is a whole lot of coal ash in Prince William County-millions of tons of the stuff. It is all sitting on a peninsula where Quantico Creek meets the Potomac River in eastern Prince William County. All this coal ash was produced by Dominion Energy at their Possum Point power plant. Coal ash is the remainder left after coal was burned to generate electricity. Coal was used to power the Possum Point power plant from 1948-2003 when they switched to natural gas.

Possum Point Power Station is owned by Dominion Energy. It sits on a 650-acre site located in Dumfries Virginia in the eastern part of Prince William County that borders the Potomac River and the Quantico Creek. There are four generating units; three of which use natural gas as a fuel source, the other is oil fired. Two of the units that are fired using natural gas were converted from coal in May of 2003. Dominion Virginia Power has not burned coal at Possum Point for 18 years and is unlikely to burn coal to generate power in the future.

from Dominion Energy Presentation

The U.S.EPA published the Disposal of Coal Combustion Residuals from Electric Utilities final rule on April 17, 2015. While the rule was years in development, the Duke Energy coal ash spill in North Carolina in February 2014 brought the need to the attention of the public.

In 2015 right after the release of the rule, Dominion Virginia Power announced that they will close all of the ash ponds at its Virginia power stations including those in Dumfries at Possum Point in compliance with rules. 

That did not go smoothly. There was a desire to have a more stringent regulation in Virginia by many of the Public. The cost to address the coal ash problem goes into the rate base for electricity. In 2017 Virginia passed SB 1398 that requires that the owner or operator of the coal ash pond:

  • Identify and describe any groundwater or surface water pollution located at or caused by the coal ash storage. 
  • Evaluate the clean closure of the coal ash through excavation and responsible recycling or reuse of coal ash.
  • Evaluate the clean closure of the coal ash through the excavation and removal of the coal ash residuals to a dry, lined storage in an appropriately permitted and monitored landfill, including an analysis of the impact that any responsible recycling or reuse options would have on such excavation and removal.
  • Demonstrate the long-term safety of the coal ash storage, addressing any long-term risks posed by the proposed closure plan and siting.

After that rule, Dominion Energy proceeded to hire a consultant to study the options as required. On December 1, 2017 the massive report prepared by AECOM, an engineering firm, was presented to the State Water Commission. The report acknowledges that common metals found in coal ash were detected above EPA standards in groundwater monitoring wells at the site. These coal ash ponds have been open to the elements and taking on water for decades. The trace contaminants and metals in the coal ash are probably the source of the metal contaminants found in the groundwater.

The AECOM report examined the expenses and time frames for the three methods of disposal or recycling the coal ash: recycling for use in concrete, cinder block or wallboard; hauling it to a modern, lined landfill by truck, barge or rail; and Dominion’s original plan of consolidating all of the on-site coal ash into one impoundment , dewatering and closing in place. Their proposal to continue with the original plan did not move forward.

Dominion Energy is now proposing to build and permit a double lined landfill at Possium Point to “dispose” of the coal ash. Last week in a virtual meeting Dominion presented its to bury the millions of pound of coal ash in a new onsite landfill, This proposal is both cheaper and faster than the current alternatives and Virginians pay through increased electric rates for the disposal of the coal ash.

 Moving waste from one site to another just creates another location for potential contamination from coal ash. The existing coal ash ponds have been open to the elements and taking on water for decades. Trace contaminants and metals in the coal ash have already leached into the groundwater, Quantico Creek and Potomac. Creating a landfill on site would require continual monitoring and maintenance. This is probably best accomplished at an operating and regulated plant rather than at a remote cap and leave it location. Though Dominion is proposing a landfill with two liners, all physical barriers fail over time this is addressed by monitoring and maintaining the systems.

Possum Point is downstream from nearby drinking water supplies and is unlikely to impact local residents beyond what has already taken place over the decades. Supervisor Baily and the Riverkeepers appear to object to building a landfill on the existing industrial site and prefer moving the coal ash elsewhere. However, I believe the best solution is to always recycle and this was the option favored by the Southern Environmental Law Center. For Possum Point the next best option is closing the coal ash on site because when properly done it requires ongoing monitoring and maintenance that is best accomplished at an operating and regulated plant rather than at a remote cap and leave it location. All physical barriers fail over time this is addressed by monitoring and maintaining the systems and Possum Point is downstream from most drinking water supplies.

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Global Carbon Project

The Global Carbon Project (GCP) is this organization that has fantastic infographics about our atmosphere, carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane. They use their graphics to integrates all the knowledge of greenhouse gases, human activities and the Earth system. They were founded in 2001 to fully understand the carbon cycle on our planet. Their projects include global budgets for the three dominant greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide) and track growth in and source of emissions, performance against the Paris Accord commitments and efforts in urban, regional, cumulative, and negative emissions.

GCP also produces the Global Carbon Atlas to visualize all their research. Both sites are a wonder to peruse and truly understand where we are as a planet. I recommend that you follow the links and take a look at some of their offerings. Below I have picked out some of their recent highlights, I am a little more discouraged than they appear to be.

After a significant drop in emissions in 2020 due to Covid-19 shutdowns, fossil CO2 emissions in 2021 appear to have just about  returned to pre-COVID levels. CO2 emissions were 36.4 billion tonnes in 2021 compared to 36.7 billion tonnes in 2019.  CO2 emissions for the United States and the European Union (EU27) though higher than 2020 are still below 2019. However, the CO2 emissions for India and China are above the 2019 levels. , the response to the COVID-19 pandemic has sparked further growth in CO2 emissions, pushed by the power generation and manufacturing sectors.

From the GCP infographic

China, the United States, European Union and India are the major emitters of CO2 from fossil fuels in 2021. All  appear to be returning to their pre-COVID emissions trends- a decreasing trend in CO2 emissions for the USA and European Union and an increasing trend in CO2 emissions for China and India. For China, the response to the COVID-19 pandemic has sparked an increased growth rate in CO2 emissions, pushed by the power and industry sectors.

CO2 emissions from China in 2021 are projected to be 5.5% above 2019 levels, reaching 11.1 billion tonnes- over 30% of total world emissions. India's CO2 emissions are projected to grow even faster than China's this year at 12.6%, after a 7.3% fall last year. This resulted in an increase of 4.5% from 2019. Emissions from both the US and European Union are projected to rise 7.6% in 2021. USA and EU, respectively, accounted for just over14% and 7% of global emissions in 2021. Emissions in the rest of the world (including all international transport, particularly aviation) are projected to rise 2.9% this year, but remain 4.2% below 2019 levels. Together, these countries and transport represent 59% of global emissions.

from the GCP

Sunday, January 23, 2022

WSSC, Winter and Water Main Breaks


Water main breaks can leave hundreds of people without service and can also cause serious traffic problems, making the daily commutes even more challenging. WSSC takes winter preparations very seriously; however, every time there is a cold snap the number of water breaks and leaks increases. There is a direct connection between dropping water temperatures in the Potomac River and the increase in water main breaks. In the chart above you can see the response to temperature changes in the increase or decrease in water main breaks. 

According to the WSSC, they typically see an increase in water main breaks a few days after the Potomac River temperature hits a new low. The dropping water temperature can “shock” water mains, and though the pipes become accustomed to the cold water; whenever water temperatures hit a new low, there is a spike in breaks. Aging pipes is also a critical factor in breaks and leaks. The older, often brittle pipes are “shocked” by the colder water, causing them to break. Approximately 40% of the water mains in WSSC Water’s systems are more than 50 years old.

When the temperature drops the incidence of water main breaks rise. There are approximately 5,800 miles of water mains in the WSSC distribution system. On average, WSSC crews repair more than 1,800 water main breaks and leaks each year, with the vast majority of them, approximately 1,100, occurring between November and February. January 2018, the year the polar vortex hit our region had the most repairs of any month on record, 802 water mains were repaired in January alone. You can see the surge in water breaks that year in the chart below along with the seasonal pattern. 


The weather has snapped cold again. WSSC requests lease report water main breaks or leaks anytime 24/7 by calling 301.206.4002 or by email at DC Water reports that they average between 400 and 500 water main breaks per year. Fairfax Water does not post their average total annual leaks and breaks, but has a live interactive site listing all current leaks. To report a leak Contact Us | Fairfax Water - Official Website.


Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Solar in Virginia

 Last week the Potomac Watershed Roundtable met virtually. The speaker was Aaron Berryhill who is the Solar Programs Manager at Virginia Energy (the renamed Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy) to reflect the refocus on clean energy and economic development after the recent passing of the Virginia Clean Economy Act that looks achieve 100% clean energy in Virginia by 2050. The Act plans for 16,100 MW of solar and onshore wind power generation by 2050.

Solar energy in Virginia and the nation as a whole is anticipated to grow exponentially in the next decades in response to the carbon reduction policies and laws passing in various states and on a Federal level. The UVA Weldon Cooper Center is partnering with Virginia Energy on the Virginia Solar Initiative. Most solar growth in Virginia has been since 2016  utility scale (>5 MW). Residential and commercial  solar (< 25KW) has been growing slowly as can be seen in the graph below. 

In 2020 renewable resources generated less than 7% of Virginia's electricity, so we’ve got a ways to go.  Virginia does not have any wind-powered utility-scale electricity generation, yet.  Virginia does have some solar power. Although solar PV electrical generation is less than 1%, it is growing rapidly as seen below. The largest share of solar PV generation in Virginia is provided by utility-scale facilities built in the last several years. So we will look at those.

The utility scale solar facilities or "solar farms" as they are more commonly known, require 8-10 acres of land per MW. Since development of utility scale solar began in Virginia about 58% of the land used has been forested land the remainder was agricultural. If Virginia continues on in this fashion between 129,000 and 161,000 acres of forest could be destroyed to achieve our clean energy goals. This will have very broad impacts on local ecologies and the ecoservice provided by the forested land. Solar panels are designed to absorb as much heat as possible (solar energy) will they impact temperature creating heat islands. A solar farm has hard surface coverage over much of the land and can change the hydrology if the water resources and groundwater recharge are not part of the planning process.

When you convert agricultural field to a solar farm, land that would be open for stormwater infiltration and see minimal disturbance until planting is converted to a site that requires year-round accessibility by machines and workers during construction and operation The key issues are the amount of hard surface and change in water infiltration and the amount of stormwater and sediment runoff and subsequent impact on surface waters.

Development of utility scale projects has many steps and challenges. Often one of the two major utilities are partnered with the developer to make it happen and guide the project through the steps.

Beyond permitting, there are local challenges, from siting to storm water management. Virginia Energy estimates that the capacity of existing transmission lines will be tapped out in this decade. Virginia Energy and UVA have jointly launched a Virginia SolSmart no-cost technical advisor program with support from The Solar Foundation to bring solar-specific resources and technical assistance to localities across Virginia to help their work towards the goals of the Virginia Clean Economy Act. 

Below are the regional projects that are in various stages of development. 

There is a tremendous amount of work and investment that needs to take place to meet the goals of the Virginia Clean Economy Act. Virginia Energy has resources that could help us along the way. 

Sunday, January 16, 2022

CO2 Emissions Increased in 2021

On January 11th 2022 the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) and the Rhodium Group released their updates and estimate for year ending December 31, 2021 performance of the economy and CO2 emissions for the year. The EIA forecast that; “Energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions rose by 6.2% in 2021 relative to 2020…” Though Energy-related CO2 emissions are sensitive to changes in weather, economic growth, energy prices, and fuel mix this was during a mild winter while the U.S. real GDP grew by 5.7% in 2021, the extent of the rebound in CO2 was more than hoped. 

If you recall the U.S. GDP fell 7.2% during the first year of the pandemic when states instituted lockdowns while CO2 emission fell even more. During 2020, as the country responded to the COVID-19 pandemic shutting down much of the economy for extended periods of time, CO2 emissions from energy consumption in the United States fell to the lowest level since 1983. The 4.6 billion metric tons of CO2 emitted in 2020 was 11% lower than 2019 levels. 

Although we will need to wait for final economic growth estimates and carbon dioxide equivalent emissions numbers, greenhouse gas emissions (or CO2 equivalent emissions) appear to have rebounded significantly despite the Delta and Omicron surges in the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, GDP bounced back 5.7%. Overall, the net CO2 equivalent emissions for the united states grew 6.2% with the transportation and electric power sectors CO2 equivalent emissions growing 10% and 6.6%, respectively from 2020 levels.

from EIA

The 10% increase in CO2 emissions from the transportation sector, reflect the high demand for  consumer goods transported to a large extent by truck and a modest recovery of passenger travel. The transportation sector that normally accounts for 31% of net US CO2 emissions had fallen over 15% (283 million metric tons of CO2e) below 2019 levels during 2020.

from the Rhodium Group 

In the electric power generation sector CO2 equivalent emissions grew 6% above 2020 levels to 95 million metric tons CO2 equivalents. Electricity accounts for 28% of net CO2 equivalent emissions. Despite the bounce back from 2020, CO2 emissions for the electric sector remained 4% lower than 2019 levels.

The increase in electric power generation sector CO2 emissions was only partially caused by increased generation of electric power.  Overall, electric power demand in 2021 was up 3% from 2020, the more robust growth in power sector CO2 emissions  was due in part to an increase in the use of coal to generate power in 2021. This was the first time in seven years that coal use had increased. Coal’s rebound was driven largely by a run-up in natural gas prices, which more than doubled since 2020. The demand curve for natural gas is relatively inelastic. In our plans for decarbonizing society have gotten ahead of reality. We have reduced supply of natural gas faster than the demand for natural gas. 

In their January 2021 report the Rhodium Group says that “Industry, which saw the most modest drop in CO2 emissions in 2020 at 6.2%, rebounded 3.6%in 2021—making up just over half the difference from 2019 levels. Buildings saw the smallest rise in CO2 emissions in 2021, growing only 1.9% from 2020,returning only a quarter of the drop in emissions from 2020.” For this one it is clear appears that there are still a lot of empty commercial buildings waiting for us to return. After our Omicron winter I am looking forward to (once again) returning to live prayer services and getting back out in the world.

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

DEQ 2020 Recycling Summary

For the calendar year 2020 the DEQ has released the AnnualRecycling Rate reporting by all 71 Virginia Solid Waste Planning Units (SWPUs). For the total they have calculated a recycling rate for Virginia of 45.5%. (This full report is only available every 4 years since the smallest communities are only required to report every 4 years.) 

The calculation of the recycling rate included credits for solid waste reused, non-municipal solid waste (MSW) recycled, recycling residues, and source reduction programs. This rate was based on the data submitted by all 71 SWPUs required to report for 2020. The recycling rate increased from last year based on the information provided by the planning units. However, some planning units faced recycling challenges due to the COVID 19 pandemic, lack of recycling markets in their regions and difficulty in obtaining recycling information from private businesses.

As you can see in the chart below, Prince William County is amongst the many communities in Virginia that has lots of room for improvement in our recycling rate. 

Sunday, January 9, 2022

PW Conservation Alliance Program

 Last Thursday the Prince William Conservation Alliance hosted a virtual meeting titled “Smart Growth Protects What We Have: A discussion on Data Centers... from the Rural Crescent to the Occoquan Reservoir.” The event was co-hosted by the  National Parks Conservation Association, Sierra Club Great Falls Group, Piedmont Environmental Council. 

After an introduction by Kim Hosen of the PWCA, the speakers were: Dr. Jack Kooyoomjian, ret. After 40 years with the U.S. EPA, Julie Bolthouse, Deputy Director of Land Use with Piedmont Environmental Council, and Stewart Schwartz, Coalition for Smarter Growth. All the speakers spoke about the impacts from the proposed PW Digital Gateway project summarized below by PWCA.

The PW Digital Gateway is about industrial development. The supervisors and developers are looking to the Rural Crescent for industrial development. The Prince William Board of County Supervisors initiated an amendment to the Comprehensive Plan for PW Digital Gateway to change the zoning from agricultural to Technology / Flex (T/F) on more than 2,000 acres along Pageland Lane for the development of data centers, but could be used for any light industrial development. The zoning being considered is for industrial uses - anything from data and distribution centers to asphalt plants. This could have serious implications for the environment, quality of life, our water supply and water use. In the Community Survey done by the Planning Office that was not what the community wanted. 

The speakers pointed out the impact that this proposal will have on Prince William County. Dr. Kooyoomjian stated that we need to have low density development in the Rural Crescent to protect the streams and creeks and recharge the groundwater to protect the drinking water supply for the region. The massive amount of building associated with the PW Digital Gateway will increase the sedimentation that flows into the Occoquan Reservoir. Not only during the construction phase, but also because impervious surfaces increase the velocity of storm water that scrubs streams and creeks and carries sediment downstream. Already more than 10% of the volume of the Occoquan Reservoir has been lost to sediment buildup- that is a billion gallons of lost water storage at a time when demand for water is forecast to increase beyond the capacity of the existing water systems in the next decades. 

All our water in Prince William is connected. 

Ms Bolthouse from the Piedmont Environmental Council emphasized that the request was to change the zoning from agricultural to Tex Flex. This development will require that Pageland Lane become a 4 lane roadway to carry the proposed traffic including during the construction period. Though the PW Digital Gateway says the developer will extend the water and sewer lines from Heritage Hunt to the Rural Crescent, that is drinking water not the promised recycled/ reused water.

Ms. Bolthouse points out that the total amount of proposed data center space is twice of the existing data center square footage in Loudoun County (the data center capital of the nation and the world). It took Loudoun County 14 years to build out the existing data centers and Loudoun County still has approved data centers that have not yet been built. The majority of the 2,400 acres in the existing Data Center Overlay district are owned by data center development companies or directly by data center operators. There has not yet been the demand for the land, it is being “banked” for the future.

Loudoun Data Center Alley

Transmission Lines cover the county

Stewart Schwartz from the Coalition for Smarter Growth pointed out that the land proposed for the PW Digital Gateway is open agricultural or existing 10 acre residential. PW Digital Gateway is not consistent with Prince William County's 10 Principals of Smart Growth.  The infrastructure beyond the transmission lines (which cover the county) is not there. Beyond the potable water and sewer that the developers say they will extend from Heritage Hunt, the county will have to provide a source of cooling water, the 4 lane expansion of Pageland Lane will have to be connected to Roads that can carry its traffic which will is the zombie Bi-County Highway. Other county services (police, fire,  SW4 etc. will have to be provided at taxpayer expense.) Mr. Schwartz believes that the PW Digital Gateway is about building the Bi-County Parkway.

County staff clearly stated that there will be huge and negative impacts on the environment and natural resources of the county from the proposed massive 80 foot high buildings; and recommended against approval. There will be costs to county residents for years ahead of any potential revenue from data center taxes. The data center land already being "banked" for the future is producing no revenue for the county. PW Conservation Alliance will be posting the entire discussion on their U-tube channel. I will provide the link when it is up. 

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Drought Warning in Virginia

The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has issued a drought watch advisory for southern portions of Virginia and the Eastern Shore. DEQ is using the drought watch to warn the local governments, public water works and individual well owners in the affected areas and to encourage them to minimize nonessential water use, conserve water and develop drought contingency plans. 

Following the guidance in the Virginia Drought Assessment and Response Plan, the Virginia Drought Monitoring Task Force (DMTF) monitors and evaluates hydrologic and water supply conditions for DEQ .  The DMTF is also responsible for making recommendations for Drought Stage declarations.   At their last meeting in December 2021, the DMTF declared a drought watch for southern portions of Virginia and the Eastern Shore.

Drought Indicators and key to Drought Map:
Precipitation (Prcp)
Groundwater Levels (GW)
Streamflow (Flow)
Reservoir Levels (Res)

A drought watch is intended to increase awareness of conditions that are are indicating the potential of a significant drought event and facilitate communities’  preparation for a drought. The next stage after a drought watch would be a “drought warning,” which would be issued if conditions continue to deteriorate. Droughtwarning responses are called for when the onset of a significant drought eventis imminent.

DEQ uses the indicators listed above to gauge the presence and severity of hydrologic drought across the 13 Drought Evaluation Regions.  According to the Virginia DMTF, a work group of state and federal agencies coordinated by DEQ, the primary factors contributing to the advisory are low precipitation across the state over the past 90 days, low stream flows and low groundwater levels compared to previous levels for this time of year.

From their December report:

Groundwater levels were below normal values for December in drought-indicator wells, with “Groundwater Watch” levels in the Northern Piedmont, Southeast Virginia and Roanoke; “ Groundwater Warning” levels in Northern Virginia; Groundwater Emergency” levels in the York James and Eastern Shore drought evaluation regions. Seven-day average flows at approximately 80% of stream gauging stations across Virginia were “below normal” as a result of abnormally low rainfall. Levels and storage at major water-supply reservoirs remained within normal ranges.”

As can be seen in the status map above that is the conditions as of January 3, 2022, though only the southeast and southcentral regions of Virginia are in a “Watch” condition, The northern region which includes Fauquier, Prince William, Loudoun and Fairfax have groundwater levels in the “Warning” range. The Northern Virginia well number 19 is below the 10% percentile, but there is still time. 

Sunday, January 2, 2022

Using Recycled Water for Data Center Cooling

According to a recent study commissioned by the Prince William County Economic Development Department: Prince William County currently has about 5.2 million square feet of data centers generating $64 million in taxes, over 4.5% of the county’s budget.  In addition, of the 8,700 acres of land in the “data center overlay district” only 600 to 1,100 acres could be considered available for sale and viable for datacenters. There are also, 27 parcels of 40 acres or more in Prince William owned by data center companies or developers, many owned for three or more years that had not been built on. It is believed that developers were “land banking” for future building. 

In a desire to increase the industrial tax revenue, it appears that a majority of Prince William County Board of Supervisors want to see if more land can be made available to build data centers.  The supervisors and developers are looking to the Rural Crescent for this industrial development. The Prince William Board of County Supervisors initiated an amendment to the Comprehensive Plan for PW Digital Gateway to change the zoning from agricultural to Technology / Flex (T/F) on 2,000 acres along Pageland Lane for the development of data centers. The zoning being considered is for industrial uses - anything from data and distribution centers to asphalt plants. This could have serious implications for the environment, quality of life, our water supply and water use.

The advocates for the 2,000 acre Digital Gateway say that only recycled water will be used. They got that idea from the recent zoning amendment in Warrenton which will allow data centers to be built in their existing industrial zone with a special use permit; but require them to use recycled water for cooling. The amendment reads: “The data center shall utilize recycled water or air chillers, in conjunction with using recycled water, for cooling purposes.  Potable water shall not be used for cooling.”

Data centers consume water directly for cooling. A lot of water. According to a report from Dr. Venkatesh Uddameri of the Water Resource Center at Texas Tech, the typical data center uses about 3-5 million gallons of water per day. That is about as much water as 30,000-50,000 people.

Recycled water is intended to mean either treated effluent from a wastewater treatment plant treated to an adequate standard for this use or water that is recirculated through a closed loop cooling system and somehow supplemented from a non-potable source. This requirement was instituted to protect the drinking water supply in Warrenton from overuse. Fauquier County is having water supply issues and hopes to avoid the need to build additional reservoirs and water treatment plants to supply the residents.

In 2019, Loudoun County had around 100 data centers in operation with another 30 or so under development, according to the county's Department of Economic Development. Another 50 data centers were reportedly in the pipeline. Loudoun County supplies a significant number of data centers with recycled water, but nonetheless still had to build a water treatment plant and direct intake from the Potomac River to meet their water demand.

Beginning in 2010 Loudoun Water constructed the first portion of the pipelines for the reclaimed water distribution system to supply data centers with industrial cooling water. The reclaimed water distribution system has since expanded to 16 miles of pipeline and serves 35 of the facilities. In 2019, Loudoun Water delivered 640 million gallons of reclaimed water, helping to save an equal amount of potable drinking water. To provide the reclaimed/ recycled water, Loudoun uses the effluent water from the Board Run wastewater treatment facility near Ashburn. This facility is  near to the existing data centers. The effluent water used to be returned to the Potomac River upstream of the Fairfax and Washington Aqueduct water intake. The volume loss during dry years could be critical and require the building of more reservoirs to support the system. This will all increase the water costs for Loudoun County residents.

According to a disclosure made in the TEC “Water Reuse, CostAllocation and Pricing Survey,” Loudoun Water only recovers the incremental cost of service of recycled water. Revenues collected cover reclaimed water operations and maintenance costs, but not the capital cost recovery for system infrastructure. Loudoun Water believes the rates are likely under-recovering the true full cost of providing the service because they are based on the incremental costs alone. The remainder of the cost is born by the residential rate payers.

In Warrenton, neither of the nearby wastewater treatment plants produce wastewater effluent of the quality necessary for data center use; and the storage, piping and pumping infrastructure would also have to built at the rate payer’s expense. It is unknow what the potentially available volume of water is and how it will impact the recharge to groundwater a significant source of water in Fauquier.

In Prince William County where the proponents of the PW Digital Gateway have claimed that their development will used recycled water to allay the very real concern that there is inadequate potable water supply to meet the growth demands of the region and industrial use by data centers. However, the only nearby recycled water is already being used by Fairfax Water. In the 1970’s it was the acknowledgment that to continue supplying the region with drinking water, the Occoquan Reservoir would have to use not only the fresh water supplied by the Occoquan River, but also the recycled wastewater from the wastewater treatment plants.  UOSA was built to serve this need and all it’s recycled water is used by the Occoquan Reservoir to supply drinking water to our region.

The level of treatment required by UOSA for indirect potable reuse in the Occoquan Reservoir is more stringent than Level 1 or Level 2 treatment standards for the reclamation of municipal wastewater. Currently, Virginia has one facility, UOSA, which is permitted to produce reclaimed water that is used for drinking water in this manner. UOSA has been operating successfully for more than 40 years and includes the Occoquan Watershed Laboratory (OWL), established by the Virginia Polytechnic Institute Department of Civil Engineering to monitor and assure the water quality.

The only other recycled water in the region would be from the HR Mooney plant that is around 30 miles away. The impact on water supply and prices would impact all Prince William Service Authority customers. Before a single data center is built in the Digital Gateway plan, the Service Authority would absorb the cost to make sure that Mooney can treat the water to data center standards as well as build and expanded laboratory and build out the pipelines (at $350-$1,000 a foot for 30 miles) and pumping stations necessary to deliver water to the Digital Gateway development. The costs for this infrastructure would increase the average cost for water to Prince William residential customers. 

from Google Maps