Alexandria, Virginia, is known for its historic, well-preserved Old Town. But its 1800s combined sewer system is also responsible for one of the city’s biggest environmental problems – it dumps millions of gallons of raw sewage into the Potomac River every year.

This is because wastewater and stormwater are conveyed using the same pipe. So during heavy rainfall, the system becomes overwhelmed, ultimately discharging into local waterways.

To address this, Alexandria Renew Enterprises started RiverRenew. This major infrastructure initiative aims to create cleaner and healthier waterways in the city while preserving its historic nature.

In this ASCE Interchange Live, Priyanka Saha, RiverRenew civil and hydraulics lead, explains the project.

“AlexRenew uses the principles of Envision and LEED sustainable rating systems to achieve a highly sustainable project for the community,” Saha said.

“Taking into consideration Alexandria’s proximity to the Potomac River, which is a tidal river, the components of RiverRenew are designed to withstand rising sea levels that are brought forth by climate change.”

The project incorporates multiple sustainable augments, including a green route at the pumping station superstructure, solar panels, an urban garden, and a bioretention facility. The tunnel system will be submitted for Envision certification and the superstructure will be submitted for LEED certification.

Saha also discusses the importance of community support for projects like this because they heavily impact the public. RiverRenew offers tours and listening sessions for community members to learn more about the initiative, as well as interactive resources to track the project on the RiverRenew website.

To view all ASCE Interchange episodes, visit ASCE’s YouTube channel.