D.C. Water unveils machine to help clean-up Anacostia River

The 360-foot long machine weighs 1,248 tons and will be lowered into the ground in the spring.
Sprinkling it with Holy Water, Cardinal Wuerl prayed that "this tunnel boring machine may be used to help improve the lives of all people, especially in this metropolitan area."
D.C. Water employees who have worked on the project so far and those who will see it through its year were on hand for the unveiling Friday.
The 360-foot long machine weighs 1,248 tons and will be lowered into the ground in the spring.

WASHINGTON — It’s a huge project that will eventually mean cleaner rivers in Washington area. D.C. Water is unveiling its $25 million machine that’ll do the job.

“This is the last time she’ll look this good,” says Ken Kopocis with the EPA. Towering behind him is D.C. Water’s new tunnel boring machine, Nannie.

It’s nearly as tall as a football field, has a 26 foot diameter and weighs in at 1,243 tons. But more impressive than its specifications is the task it’s charged with.

As part of the Anacostia River Tunnels project, Nannie will tunnel roughly 13 miles from RFK Stadium to Poplar Point to meet its sister, Lady Bird, drilling from Blue Plains.

D.C. Water CEO George Hawkins says the project will reduce combined sewage overflows going into the Anacostia River by 98 percent.

“Instead of going out to the river, where you see it, it will go into the tunnel. This machine is drilling and will be conveyed all the way down to Blue Plains,” Hawkins says.

Once treated, the water will return to the Potomac River.

Invoking the intercession of Saint Barbara, the patron saint of miners, Donald Cardinal Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, prayed for the protection of the workers and blessed the tunnel boring machine.

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