Arlington Re-Gen: A Path to Improved Sustainability

water facility

Arlington Re-Gen: A Path to Improved Sustainability

By: Antron Sutton, Bureau Chief, Arlington County Water Pollution Control Plant

Jan. 5, 2023
Anton Sutton

Throughout my career, I have advocated for sustainable treatment processes, and as head of the Arlington County Water Pollution Control Bureau, I am proud to lead an organization that prioritizes sustainability. Innovation is at the core of our ongoing work to protect public health and the environment, and therefore I am particularly excited about the Arlington Re-Gen program.

Plant upgrades completed in 2011 enhanced the liquid treatment processes and reduced the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus discharged into County waters. We are now focusing on upgrading our solids processing facilities to state-of-the-art processes, with a focus on improved operations, maintenance, and sustainability. The sustainability improvements are created as we recognize that we can recover two key resources from the wastewater through the new processes:

  • Class A Biosolids: Through application of a process called thermal hydrolysis, we are able to destroy all of the pathogens in the solids through high temperatures and pressures. When this process is followed by anaerobic digestion - which uses microorganisms to break down the organic matter – we create a stable, nutrient-rich resource called biosolids. Class A biosolids are free of pathogens and can be used as fertilizer on lawns, parks, and gardens.
  • Biogas: This renewable energy source is produced by the breakdown of biodegradable material to methane in the anaerobic digestion process. The biogas is then cleaned through an advanced gas upgrading process and can be used as renewable natural gas, which helps to reduce our carbon footprint.

In the coming weeks we will select a team of designers and builders and we anticipate construction will begin in 2024. We will use this website to keep you updated on the progress of the upgrades, through design and construction.

Since master planning was initiated in 2015, we have facilitated regular meetings with a group of County residents representing nearby civic associations and other organizations to keep them informed and engaged throughout the process.

We’d also like to hear from you as the Arlington Re-Gen program progresses. I invite you to explore the site to learn more about the program and please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions you may have.

I’m looking forward to sharing more about the program and working together to keep Arlington County a sustainable place to live, work, and play.