WASHINGTON (WDVM) — District of Columbia Water’s Clean River Project has made its way through another phase. The project’s boring machine, named Chris, made its debut at Rhode Island Avenue NW and 6th Street NW on April 21, after about two years underground.
The project, and Chris, will bring much needed flooding relief to the neighborhoods in the area, as well as help to fix a sewage overflow issue and reduce nitrogen levels in the District’s waterways.
The sewage system in the area was built in the 1800s, and the design is leading to these issues in today’s time. Carlton Ray, D.C. Water’s Clean Rivers Project Vice President, explained, “The design at the time, there was simply one pipe in the middle of the street that transports sewage out of peoples homes as well as stormwater off the streets.” Those sewage pipe fills up quickly when it rains, leading to sewage overflow into rivers and flooding in neighborhoods.
Chris is mining a new tunnel 75 to 150 feet underground that will keep the problems from happening. Ray explained, “So, as Chris is mining through the earth, basically, materials coming out, we’re bringing tunnel pieces in and constructing a tunnel behind.”
Since the project started in March of 2018, there has already been improvement seen in waterways such as the Anacostia River. “We’ve captured 10.5 billion gallons of sewage that would’ve ended up in the Anacostia River. We’ve captured over 5,000 tons of trash,” explained Ray.
The next phase of the project is the Potomac phase, which will build a tunnel underground around the monuments and in the Georgetown area. Ray said, “So, just like for the Anacostia (River), we want to make the river swimmable and fishable, so it’s safe.”
The Potomac phase, which is also the final phase of the project, is set to be complete in 2030. Ray said, “So far we are on schedule and budget for a multibillion-dollar program, which is normally unheard of for these kinds of sites, but we’re doing great.”
Engineers are still finalizing plans for the Potomac phase. The work at Rhode Island Avenue NW and 6th Street NW will continue for the next two years.
To learn more about the Clean River Project, click here.