Not to Waste

Not to Waste

LCSA takes waste water treatment to new level.

Rain gardens, trails and ponds, along with an educational center, are in the plans for the Broad Run Water Reclamation Facility.

"The Broad Run sewage treatment plant will be something of beauty," said Supervisor Charles Harris (D-Broad Run).

The waste water treatment plant, which is proposed for a 352-acre site the Loudoun County Sanitation Authority (LCSA) purchased in 1989, will be ready for operation in 2008. That year, LCSA forecasts reaching the maximum amount of waste water it can send to the District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority.

"Because of the growth out here and the forecasted demand for water, it's estimated we'll hit that 13.8 million gallon maximum in 2008," said Samantha Villegas, manager of communications at LCSA.

Currently, LCSA sends nine million gallons of waste water per day to the authority that is collected at the Potomac River interceptor and conveyed by gravity. The new treatment facility will augment and eventually replace LCSA's agreement with the authority, since it will be able to provide a daily capacity of 30 million gallons of water. The treated water will be discharged to the Broad Run, a tributary to the Potomac River, or made available for irrigation, golf courses and parks and recreation facilities. The Broad Run borders the plant site to the east with Loudoun Parkway, or Route 607, bordering the west side.

"I don't know of anything else in the area that's going to be like this," Villegas said. "It's highly advanced waste water treatment."

THE WASTE WATER treatment plant will use membrane bio-reactor technology to treat waste water. After solids are removed, porous fiber membranes will act as filters to separate microorganisms from the water, allowing only .001 micro-milliliter of matter through and remaining impermeable to something as small as a virus. The filtering process is conducted in fewer steps than a traditional waste water treatment plant.

"Bottom line, this is the most advanced waste water treatment process available right now," Villegas said. "The cost is comparable to other treatment options. It takes up less space than conventional treatment options. It's odor free and neighbor friendly."

LCSA conducted a pilot study of the bio-reactor technology at the Town of Leesburg's Water Pollution Control Facility from October 2000 to May 2001. Once the study was completed, LCSA began the design process at the end of last year and hired engineering firm CH2MHILL, which has an office in Herndon, as the design consultant. The firm has designed the process side of the multi-building plant, laid out the site and assigned different aspects of the technology to the various buildings within the campus, which will span 60 acres. The design process is expected to take until 2004.

Half of the campus will be devoted to an outdoor public interpretative area for self-guided tours and passive recreation. A 17-member citizens advisory committee began meeting in December 2002 to help the firm and LCSA develop the concept.

"We are doing our best to provide a site that is neighbor friendly that the public will be interested in coming to," Villegas said. "Everything we do in the design of the site takes into account good neighbor policy."

THE PUBLIC interpretative area will include water-wise and rain gardens, ponds, natural trails that will overlap and weave through different plant species and interpretative messages at various locations. The messages will offer information on water and waste water treatment, conservation, wetlands, watershed protection and other ecological and scientific topics and relate the treatment facility to residents' daily lives.

"The education and public portion is going to be superb. You will be able to walk into it and be part of it," Harris said, adding that the interpretative area will explain the importance of clean water and that everybody lives upstream from someone else. "The way they've designed the facility is superb. The ideas are really great."

Members of the citizen advisory committee will be invited to help LCSA develop the concept for an indoor education area, and if additional members are needed, the public will be invited to join.

"They are highly committed. They are very interested in the project," Villegas said about the committee members.

The project also includes 128 acres of forested buffer and 19 acres of a forested wetland buffer, along with 60 to 100 acres without a planned use. LCSA will determine whether to sell, lease or find another form of disposition of the property, which is in the northwestern area near Route 607.

"We will have to establish criteria for accepted uses," Villegas said, adding that private and public organizations have already expressed interest in the site, which could be used for ball fields or other uses. "We will have a requests for proposal system in place to solicit plans for that area."

Construction of the treatment facility is scheduled to begin next year for a 2008 completion date. The facility is estimated to cost $150-180 million and once operating, associated user fees may increase. The administration offices in Leesburg will eventually be moved to the site before the facility opens.

LCSA provides water and waste water service to the unincorporated areas of eastern Loudoun County.