Reusing Biosolids in Agriculture

Biosolids are residue left over from the sewage treatment process. DC Water safely treats these biosolids and then reuses the nutrient-rich material to improve the soil for agricultural production.

Once the wastewater is processed, the solids that settle at the bottom of the tank are collected and undergo a series of chemical treatments and biological transformations that kill any harmful bacteria but leave nutrients intact.

Each day, more than 1,200 wet tons of these nutrient-rich biosolids are hauled from the Blue Plains Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant and reused through a diverse land application program that improves the soil for agricultural production and many other projects. The stabilized biosolids are then applied as fertilizer and mulch to farmlands throughout Virginia. The fertilizer is rich in nitrogen, so farmers have less need to purchase inorganic fertilizer.

DC Water has been nationally recognized as a leader in biosolids management and a model for the smart, environmentally friendly recycling of waste products.

  • The National Biosolids Partnership nationally certified our Biosolids Management Program, making DC Water the first on the East Coast and only the fifth in the nation to receive such a distinction.
  • In 2005, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded DC Water's Biosolids Management Program the National First Place Clean Water Act Recognition Award. The award recognizes outstanding achievement in promoting the beneficial uses of municipal wastewater biosolids.