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EPA issues discharge permit for Washington Aqueduct

Release Date: 3/17/2003
Contact Information: Roy Seneca 215-814-5567

Contact: Roy Seneca 215-814-5567
PHILADELPHIA – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has issued the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers a new discharge permit for the Washington Aqueduct water treatment plant. The permit sets more restrictive limits on the discharge of processed water and treated sediments into the Potomac River and Rock Creek.

“With this new permit, EPA has demonstrated its continued commitment to the environmental protection of the waterways that pass through our nation’s capital,” said Donald S. Welsh, regional administrator for EPA’s mid-Atlantic region.

Located in the District of Columbia, the Washington Aqueduct is a drinking water treatment facility that supplies water to about one million residents in Washington, DC and northern Virginia. The facility is owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The permit becomes effective in 30 days. Key provisions in the permit include:

• New limits on sediment concentrations in the discharges (no more than a monthly average of 30 milligrams/liter of discharge, or a daily maximum of 60 milligrams/liter of discharge). The amount of solids discharged under the new permit will be at least 99 percent lower than under the current permit.
• An immediate prohibition on any discharges of solids from Feb. 15 through Jun. 15 when fish are spawning and hatching.

• Concentration limits for aluminum and a prohibition of chlorine from the Aqueduct’s discharges.

• Requirements for a series of studies, including one to determine if there are any shortnose sturgeon, an endangered species, near the Aqueduct’s outfalls.

Along with the permit, EPA has proposed a compliance agreement that provides a timetable for the Washington Aqueduct to comply with the new effluent limitations while allowing the Corps of Engineers to continue to provide safe drinking water to customers.

Under the consent agreement, portions of the facility will be in compliance within five years, but some infrastructure improvements could take up to 6 years. The compliance agreement will become effective following a 30-day public comment period.