$2.7 billion tunnel will help significantly cut raw sewage dumped into Anacostia River


On the surface by RFK Stadium, it looks like your average construction site.

But 120 feet down, there’s a $2.7 billion tunnel that's about to change the nation’s capital.

“It’s the biggest environmental improvement to this river in the history of this river, probably,” project director Carlton Ray said. "This giant source of pollution that’s been going on since the 1800s, we're taking that source of pollution out of the river."

Parts of D.C.’s sewer system date back to the Civil War. It’s one single pipe that combines sewage and street runoff and during big storms, it dumped the raw sewage into the Anacostia River – about 2 billion gallons per year. The tunnel will cut that by 98 percent.

“Sewage, instead of going to the river, will now flow down to Blue Plains to get properly treated,” Ray said.

The tunnel, which is phase one, stretches from Blue Plains Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant to RFK Stadium. Another tunnel will be built from RFK Stadium to Bloomingdale that will go online in about five years.

Projects managers say the tunnel is the biggest infrastructure project since Metro, which opened its tunnels 42 years ago Wednesday. The goal for the sewage tunnel is almost as monumental as it will help make the Anacostia River cleaner.

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off