Legislative And Regulatory History

Following generally accepted engineering practices a century ago, a sewage collection system was constructed in Washington, DC, in 1870, with wastewater collected and discharged into the Potomac River without treatment. By 1913, USPHS surveys documented severely polluted conditions resulting from the discharge of raw sewage. Following the recommendations of city officials in 1920 and a study conducted in the early 1930s, the Blue Plains facility began operation in 1938 as a primary plant to serve 650,000 people. An unforeseen population influx related to World War II quickly exceeded the capacity of the new treatment plant. In response to the continuing degradation of water quality in the Potomac, the 1956 Federal Water Pollution Control Act, and subsequent amendments, served as the mechanism for establishing cooperative federal, state, and local remedial action plans for wastewater treatment. For more than two decades, federal, state, and local officials have cooperated in developing regional water quality management plans and implementing recommended effluent limits.

TABLE 8-2 Effluent Flow in 2000 from Major Tidal Potomac River Municipal Wastewater Treatment Plants


Effluent Flow (mgd)


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