DC Water Bisolids Management – Energy Recovery


Every wastewater utility throughout North America must establish a plan to dispose of its residuals identified as “biosolids”. But Washington, DC’s utility, located in the heart of the nation’s capital and known as DC Water, made a significant commitment in 2008 to manage differently, the “biosolids” generated at its Blue Plains Advanced Wastewater Treatment Facility (BPAWWTP). Now after a decade of research and implementation, the result is a unique and notable “Biosolids Management Program” (BMP) that is now being considered as the “world’s greenest” wastewater project because of its tremendous benefits.” This exciting project is currently generating will generate 10 megawatts of electricity and power — which equates to about a third of the (BPAWWT) plant’s electrical needs, and also produce a Class A Biosolids to be turned into compost – a safe product for use in garden and landscaping projects.

DC Water’s advanced wastewater treatment plant, which is also the largest in the world, processes 370 mgd of wastewater from a population equivalent to 4 million residents, government and business facilities and industry not only from the District of Columbia, but also parts of suburban Maryland and Northern Virginia.


Implementing the project plan began in 2009 when DC Water selected the firm of Brown and Caldwell (WDBC member) as the lead Program Manager for its $470M Biosolids Program at the Blue Plains Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant (BPAWTP). With initial drivers for the project including schedule savings and the potential for federal stimulus funds for a “shovel ready” project, DC Water made the decision to use design-build delivery for the process-oriented project. After comprehensive analysis considering project details, numerous workshops involving an array of stakeholders, and two market sounding surveys, DC Water elected to use design-build delivery for the Main Process Train (MPT) project and design-build-operate for the Combined Heat and Power (CHP) project and traditional Design-Bid-Build for the delivery of the Solids Thickening Upgrades, Final Dewatering and Odor Control projects.


To facilitate the seamless implementation of the two design-build delivery projects, DC Water tasked Brown and Caldwell with preparing highly prescriptive preliminary design and contract bridging documents to ensure that utility’s primary project goals and objectives would be reflected in the constructed facilities. Through the use of multiple procurement methods, DC Water was able to address market, risk and technical issues unique to each project, while ensuring competition and compliance with owner requirements. DC Water estimates that without the use of design-build delivery, the Program would have taken at least an additional 12 months to implement. Subsequently, the benefits to using Design-Build Delivery included:

  • Managing an aggressive design/construction schedule that achieved early on savings.
  • Supporting contractor innovation and collaboration with entire design-build team.
  • Retaining control over design features and ensuring compliance with design standards.
  • Confirming a pool of qualified DB teams and offering single-point responsibility for performance.
  • Integrating main process train components seamlessly into plant operations.

Participating Companies included         

  • Owner │ DC Water
  • Biosolids Program Manager │ Brown and Caldwell
  • Main Process Train Design Build Team│ PC Construction/CDM JV
  • CHP Design, Construction, and Operation│ Pepco Energy System (PES) with Black & Veatch and Ulliman Shutte
  • Construction Mgmt for MPT, CHP, and FDF│ Arcadis
  • Final Dewatering Facility Design│ CH2M
  • Final Dewatering Facility (1C) Construction│ Corinthian Contractors
  • Final Dewatering Facility (2C) Construction│ PC Construction
  • Site Preparation Construction Management│ Earth Tech (AECOM)
  • Site Presentation Construction│ Alberici Construction