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Toledo, OH, and Washington D.C. Overhaul their Wastewater Systems


March, 2017

M. DeHart

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Toledo, OH, is undergoing a decades long project.

Source: Leeroy

One city is working hard to fix their wastewater system.

Toledo, Ohio is one of the many American cities with an antiquated water system. With many of the pipes laid out as far back as the 1940’s, the Toledo Department of Public works decided it was time for a change.

The Toledo Waterways Initiative started in the early 90’s, working through over a decade of court proceedings, agreements, and red tape before finally getting started. The $500 million Initiative laid out plans to overhaul the Toledo waterway system, resulting in renovations to the Bay View Treatment plant, eliminating sewer discharges, and slashing sanitation/storm sewer overflows.  “When that construction is complete,” Julie Cousino, the program administrator, explained, “we will have eliminated 650 million gallons of untreated sewage annually from entering our area waterways[.] That’s an 80 percent total reduction in waste overflow.”

The 18 year project has been underway since 2002. Despite minor hiccups and a few unforeseen side-projects, construction has been meeting all of the copious deadlines for over 45 sub-projects while still remaining under budget. Once completed, the renovated waterway system will not only ensure the safety and cleanliness of the nearby Maumee and Ottawa rivers, but also will contribute to the population’s quality of life. Because of this, the Waterways Initiative has garnered considerable support from the city’s administration and the public.

Washington D.C. undergoes a massive wastewater project under everyone's feet.

Source: Marko Berndt

Other projects are underway around the country, including the nation’s capital.

This is one of many projects given the go-ahead to fix the country’s wastewater infrastructure. Washington D.C. faced a similar problem, with a combined water system regularly overflowing and polluting the Potomac and the Anacostia with over 2 billion gallons of raw sewage. D.C. has implemented an enormous, worm-like machine under the streets to simultaneously eat away at 26 feet of dirt and lay out a reinforced concrete tunnel behind it. The $2.6 billion project is projected to be completed in 2025 and will remove 2 million cubic yards of soil via the 443 foot long machine (dubbed the Lady Bird). Eventually the re-routing of D.C.’s sewage will lead to a natural clearing of the local rivers.

Similar, albeit less expensive, projects are underway across the country with hopes of clearing the water in all cities and towns.

  1. http://www.mswmag.com/editorial/2017/02/an_18_year_fix
  2. https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/trafficandcommuting/meet-lady-bird-a-massive-machine-digging-out-a-solution-to-dc-wastewater-woes/2014/02/15/e20b1c60-8dc3-11e3-98ab-fe5228217bd1_story.html?utm_term=.f57c0573bc7b


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