Drink up: Loudoun Co. now treating water from Potomac River

Loudoun Water has opened a new state-of-the-art water treatment plant and, for the first time, is assuming responsibility for processing all of the water that eventually comes out of county residents’ taps.

After years of purchasing treated Potomac River water from Fairfax Water, and supplementing it by treating water from Goose Creek, Loudoun is tapping the Potomac, and is no longer supplying water from Goose Creek.

The opening of the Trap Rock Water Treatment Facility came on the 60th anniversary of Loudoun Water, which was founded as the Loudoun County Sanitation Authority in May 1959.

The utility developed the Potomac Water Supply Program to guide its use and preservation of the natural resource.

The D.C. metropolitan area relies on the Potomac River to supply approximately three-quarters of the area’s water, according to the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin. The Washington Aqueduct, Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission and Fairfax Water all take-in water from the Potomac.

The utility’s pumping station, along the Potomac in Leesburg, Virginia, is designed to minimize impacts on the river and its ecosystem. The company says water enters the intake through tiny mesh screens, designed to protect aquatic life and kayakers nearby

Water is pumped six miles underground from the river to the Trap Rock facility, located on Gant Lane, in Leesburg.

According to the utility, when the Potomac River is flowing well, raw water can be stored in a retired rock quarry, owned by Luck Stone. Initially, up to one billion gallons of water can be stored in quarries, but as rocks are removed, enough quarries to store up to eight billion gallons of water will become available.

During periods of drought and other water emergencies, water from the quarries will be treated, and withdrawals from the Potomac River will be suspended.

As one of the fastest-growing counties in the United States, water demands are projected to grow from 40 million gallons per day to 90 million gallons per day by 2040. The utility says its two-step ozone, two-stage mixing, flocculation, sedimentation, biological filtration, chlorine disinfection and ultraviolet inactivation systems will meet or exceed drinking water regulations for many years.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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