Water Infrastructure Case Studies: Loudon County, Virginia
How Partnerships Can Help Fix America’s Water Infrastructure
Loudoun County, Virginia
Challenges: exploding population growth and water shortages
Loudoun County, located outside of Washington, D.C., is served by the public utility Loudoun Water. Overseen by a board of supervisors, Loudoun Water consists of a combined drinking water and wastewater system that currently serves over 75,000 households, in a county where the population is over 375,000. Loudoun Water maintains 1,200 miles of water distribution pipelines and over 880 miles of wastewater collection system pipelines.
Loudoun Water currently receives treated drinking water from two other facilities: 50 million gallons per day from the neighboring utility Fairfax Water, sourced from the Potomac River, and 7 million gallons per day from the Goose Creek Water Treatment Plant. Supplies are further augmented by reservoirs in Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia through a shared supply agreement with neighboring water providers. In addition, Loudoun Water provides water to several small community water systems, including Beacon Hill and Raspberry Falls.
Over the next 20 years, the county expects to continue to have one of the highest population and employment growth rates in the entire Washington region. The county anticipates needing 40 percent more treated drinking water, or 37 million gallons per day of water, to meet future population demand. In response, Loudoun Water developed the Potomac Water Supply Program. This innovative approach to water supply management includes withdrawing water from the Potomac River, banking raw water in retired quarries, constructing a new water treatment facility, and increasing transmission capacity.
The program’s newly constructed assets will seek to maximize the latest in technology to improve service and reduce environmental impacts. A new pumping station will be designed to minimize water withdrawals in times of drought while curtailing noise and eliminating odor. Loudoun Water will lay new transmission pipelines along existing utility corridors to reduce environmental impacts. The pipelines will provide extra capacity to accommodate future growth and will have an extended lifespan through the use of corrosion protection coating.
A critical piece of Loudoun’s new water system will be an innovative storage system in partnership with Luck Stone, a hard rock quarry company. Through this partnership, Loudoun Water will store one billion gallons of excess water in a retired quarry, with the potential to store up to 8 billion gallons as additional quarries are retired. By storing water from Potomac River when it is at normal flow rates, Loudoun Water will have the opportunity to use the stored water during periods of drought or low flow. This will ensure that local consumers do not see a disruption of service, while also protecting the Potomac River’s fragile ecosystem.
By leveraging regional partnerships and creating an innovation public-private partnership, the utility Loudoun Water has been able to develop a water supply plan that will meet the needs of its rapidly growing population.