Do You Know Where Your Water’s Been?

By Lani Gering

Do You Know Where Your Water’s Been?

I’ve lived in Alexandria, both in Old Town and Del Ray, since 1992 and never actually gave any thought to what we are actually paying for when I write out the check that pays for the water that we use several times every day. I guess I just chalked it up to another “utility” that we couldn’t live without. Now that I know that it is actually more of an “investment’ in protecting our drinking water as well local water resources, I will grumble less about getting another bill.

In the spirit of celebrating the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, we thought it would be a good idea to write about a local entity that takes care of Mother Earth’s most precious resource, water. Alexandria Renew Enterprises aka AlexRenew is that entity. Located amazingly close to Old Town out in the Eisenhower Avenue corridor, this facility is surprisingly non-descript – meaning that it blends well into the landscape – for a facility that basically turns 13 billion – yes, billion – gallons of waste water into clean, healthy water for around 320,000 end users every year.

While talking and corresponding with Monica Billger, Community Outreach & Education Specialist at AlexRenew, I was given permission to use information from their website for some basics. I don’t have enough space available to give you all of the facts and figures and the long history of how AlexRenew got to where they are today so I encourage you to read all of that at your leisure at AlexRenew.com. It really is pretty amazing when you think about how far we’ve come just in the last 25-30 years in making our local waterways what they are today. I do, however, want to give you a bit of an overview of what happens from the time the “dirty” water hits the plant to when it gets to you. See the following:

“Alexandria Renew Enterprises is one of the most advanced water resource recovery public utilities in the United States. We clean dirty water to protect our community and the environment. When dirty water flows from your home or business, we get to work turning it into sparkling, clean water. Here’s a look at how we take your dirty water and transform into clean, healthy water.”

As you can see, this is an arduous process and I, for one, am glad that they are here.

AlexRenew has suspended all plant tours of the main campus due to ongoing construction that is part of the RiverRenew program. Seeing the process first-hand at their award winning water resource facility is the best way for visitors to learn how they make dirty water clean again, but in the meantime they have created a specialized tour – in partnership with the Four Mile Run Conservatory – of the Four Mile Run Pump Station. For more information on the tour go to alexrenew.com/visit-us/take-tour.

We all need to take some time and reflect on what we each need to do to preserve our surroundings and the Earth in general – not just on Earth Day on the 22nd but every day. Since the COVID-19 virus has prohibited gatherings in public places, the city-wide Earth Day Celebration sponsored by the City in conjunction with AlexRenew has been cancelled, however, this doesn’t mean you can’t do something on your own to acknowledge the 50th Anniversary. Plant an extra flower bed for your yard or consider planting a pot of bee friendly flowers on your patio or deck. It’s the little things that add up. And……DON’T LITTER!

Sidebar:

To Flush or Not To Flush

Do NOT flush items that can harm pipes and cause back-ups like:

Kleenex (tissues)

Paper Towels

Wipes of Any Kind

Dental Floss

Feminine Hygiene Products

Coffee Grounds

Fats, Oils and Grease (FOG)

This is especially important as we have been facing toilet paper shortages and people have been substituting paper products that are not meant to be flushed.

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