D.C.-Area Leaders Reach 99-Year Sewage Pact

Washington area leaders reached an important, 99-year agreement on how to handle tons of daily sewage in the region -- the first such agreement since 1985.

The plan is designed to allow a lot more development in the coming decades. 

Millions of times a day, water flows into the overwhelmed regional D.C. water sewage system serving about 5 million people from Loudoun County in the west to Fairfax, Montgomery, Prince George’s counties and D.C. -- areas experiencing or expecting more growth and a lot more sewage ahead.

“We're looking at over the next 20 years maybe a quarter of a million additional people living the city,” D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray said.

Regional leaders agreed on a billion-dollar-per-year pact to share sewage capacity that flows into the Blue Plains facility in Southwest -- the largest sewage treatment plant in the world.

“Blue Plains provides 70 percent of the sewage treatment for Montgomery County, and unfortunately many of the citizens don't recognize it,” Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett said.

The leaders celebrated the agreement with a cake.

DC Water is spending about $3 billion upgrading sewage lines that date to the late 1800s -- lines that too often get overwhelmed, flood neighborhoods and pollute local rivers.

The improved sewage system also is expected reduce pollution in the Anacostia and Potomac rivers as well as the Chesapeake Bay.

Follow Tom Sherwood on Twitter at @tomsherwood

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