April 6, 2014


DC Water adopts Norway's Cambi system for making power and fine fertilizer from sewage (Ashley Halsey III, April 5, 2014, Washington Post)

More than a few pennies may be saved for the citizens of the District and for some Virginians and Marylanders. Those people -- 2.2 million of them -- get a monthly bill for the privilege of sending their thoroughly digested nutritional intake to the plant in Southeast Washington operated by D.C. Water.

A chunk of that monthly bill is passed on to another local utility -- Pepco. D.C. Water is the electricity company's No. 1 customer. By converting poop to power, the water company will cut its Pepco bill by about one third and reduce by half the cost of trucking treated waste elsewhere.

But enough about poop, a subject that makes many a reader a bit squeamish. Because we'd rather not drive you away from the description of a wholly remarkable plan that is very likely to affect your pocketbook, henceforth we will refer to the matter that flows through the sewage plant as "the product."

In fact, you soon will learn, it is going to be turned into a genuine product. One with a price tag. One that you may buy back.

Think about it.

The product has shed the label "wastewater" to morph into something called "enriched water," a term laden with many more intriguing possibilities.

"It could be a game changer for energy," said George Hawkins, an environmentalist who became general manager of D.C. Water. "If we could turn every enriched-water facility in the United States into a power plant, it would become one of the largest sectors of clean energy that, at the moment, is relatively untapped."

Posted by at April 6, 2014 9:21 AM

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