Officials with the D.C. Water and Sewer Authority are set to break ground next week on a $2.6 billion project to build underground storm water and sewage tunnels.
The project is part of an effort to curb pollution discharge flowing into waterways, the Washington Post reported.
About 75 times per year, 1.5 billion gallons of untreated wastewater is dumped in the Anacostia, 850 million gallons is released into the Potomac, and Rock Creek receives about 52 million gallons of untreated overflow, according to D.C. Water. D.C. Water releases the untreated waste into waterways to avoid backup in the system.
The city will build two tunnels. The Anacostia tunnel will extend from the Blue Plains Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant along the Anacostia River to an area near RFK Stadium. The second tunnel will run 120 feet underground along M Street southeast between 9th and 14th streets. Construction of that pipe will affect traffic on a busy stretch of M Street near Nationals Park, the Post reported.
The pipes will retain storm water from heavy rains so filth can be removed before it flows into Rock Creek and the Anacostia and Potomac rivers.
The District currently operates a single pipe to handle a combination of storm water and sewage in a third of the city, the Post reported. The system performs poorly during rains and threatens to bubble back up into the toilets and sinks of homes and businesses.
Parts of the new project are scheduled to be completed in 2018, but it won’t be totally finished until 2025, according to the Post.