Anaerobic Digestion

Anaerobic Digestion

Anaerobic digestion is seen as a game changer for providing resource recovery to cut costs and provide a renewable source of energy. The process uses the natural decomposition of organic materials by microbes that thrive in an oxygen-free environment. The treatment plants produce about 70,000 tons of biosolid sludge a year. Instead of treating the sludge with a chemical intensive lime stabilization process, it would use a biological process to convert sludge into methane gas. That gas could then be converted to power engines, produce electricity and generate heat for the ongoing digestion process. The process would also eliminate the volume of biosolids by 50 percent while producing power. The project is expected to save about $3.7 million per year in reduced energy, disposal and chemical costs, recouping the initial investment of the new plant in 16 years. The anaerobic digesters also can convert restaurant grease waste to additional power to provide an environmental solution to reuse grease and eliminate it from the sewer system where it often clogs pipes. The waste-to-energy conversion represents a shift in how WSSC views wastewater treatment. WSSC no longer thinks of the treatment function as dealing with wastewater, but rather the recovery of valuable and usable resources. Ultimately, the wastewater treatment plants and related pumping stations will be referred to as “water resource recovery facilities.”

Wind

Wind

In 2008, WSSC began to directly purchase wind-generated electrical power, further reducing greenhouse gas emissions. WSSC plans to award a new long-term wind contract in 2019 as part of its overall effort to lower its carbon footprint.

Solar

Solar

Since 2013, 17,000 solar panels or two megawatts (MW) at the Western Branch and Seneca water resource recovery facilities provide nearly 20 percent of the electricity; a result of a public-private partnership with Washington Gas Energy Systems and Standard Solar. Washington Gas owns and operates the installations, designed and installed by Standard Solar, under a 20-year purchasing agreement. The solar panels will save an estimated $3 million over the 20 years. In 2018 WSSC plans to add another 6 MW of solar power.

Anacostia River Project

Anacostia River Project

WSSC began the Anacostia River Flood Control Project after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers concluded the Anacostia River and surrounding streams needed a series of levees to control flooding. Work began in 1946 in Montgomery County.

Test Water Meter

Test water meter with digital display

A portable and battery-operated test water meter with digital display invented by Edward Wissman Jr., Leonard Guralnick, Michael Perini received a patent on August 7, 1990. This invention shows gallon-per-minute display and total gallons, each of which is resettable at any time. An additional total gallon display has a reset enabled through a security switch so only select personnel can reset it. The test water meter includes a pair of outlet valves, one controlling a standard 4-inch outlet and the other controlling a standard 3/4-inch outlet. A meter is positioned just upstream of each valve. Associated with each meter is a transmitter for transmitting data indicative of flow rates and volumes to the digital display. Associated with the large meter is an indicator plate generally indicating flow rates as a function of valve position, the valve position being indicated by a pointer fixed to the valve spindle.

Methods of and Apparatus

Methods of and apparatus for removing odors from process airstreams

On November 3, 1992, Charles Murray, Joel Thompson and Lawrence Hentz Jr. developed a method and apparatus for removing odors from process airstreams. WSSC received a patent for this process which treats the air by injecting an atomized mixture of dilute sulfuric acid and dilute surfactant, thereby eliminating ammonia and odorous organic compounds.

Method to monitor sound waves

Method to monitor sound waves

Since water mains are buried underground, when they fail it can cause serious issues in terms of water loss and damage. WSSC employee Michael Woodcock and Richard Holt determined sound waves travel slower and frequency domains differ in pipes of poor condition. Together they devised a method to detect whether a concrete main is failing, and patented the method on July 30, 1996. WSSC uses this method to maintain its pipes.

A Water-Treating Device

A water-treating device for attachment directly to a fire hydrant outlet

Michael Porter’s invention of a water-treating device attached directly to a fire hydrant outlet received a patent on May 8, 2001. This invention is a specially designed diffuser that filters out chlorine. Therefore, when fire hydrants are flushed out periodically, the chlorine does not enter rivers, streams and bays.

Emerson Harrington

EMERSON HARRINGTON

Maryland Gov. Emerson Harrington, who signs the bill that created WSSC, serves one term as governor from 1916 to 1920. He surprises Maryland residents with his support of Prohibition and voting rights for women.