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UPDATE: Triadelphia and T. Howard Duckett Reservoirs

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WSSC Water is proud to be a leader in the water industry. To stay at the head of the pack, we are always looking toward the future and finding ways to innovate now.

The PipeDiver

The official name of our ongoing program to inspect our largest water mains is the PCCP Management Program (PCCP stands for Prestressed Concrete Cylinder Pipe). But "The PipeDiver" is a much cooler way to remember it, don't you think? The PipeDiver is one of several tools we use to inspect our 145 miles of PCCP. The pipes range in size from big to bigger - from three feet in diameter to eight feet, which is big enough for a person to walk through. But we don't have to send our workers through the pipes now - that's a job for the PipeDiver.

Watch PipeDiver in Action


Miles of prestressed concrete cylinder pipe that WSSC Water manages with the help of "The Pipediver." Some of the pipes are eight feet in diameter, which is as tall as the average room.

Universal Fire Hydrant Tool

AFO: Our ears on the pipes

You can learn a lot by listening - and that's what our Acoustic Fiber Optic Monitoring System does for us. By listening for the sounds that are made by breaking wires in Prestressed Concrete Cylinder Pipe, we can know right away if there's a potential problem that needs attention.

Get the AFO Details

Zinc-coated Ductile Iron Pipe

You might be surprised at all the technology that goes into the pipes that carry water to your home. But thanks to some fancy engineering, a special kind of pipe we use - Zinc-Coated Ductile Iron Pipe - is forecast to provide years and years of extra service. Which means less expense for us - and you.

Learn More About Zinc-Coated Pipe

Teaming up with research partners

In addition to the cutting-edge tools we use, WSSC Water teams up with numerous universities and institutions to assess emerging technology - research that could help us define our future. These working relationships are important because they advance the scientific understanding of real-world applications. WSSC Water is eager to expand our research and innovation partnership ecosystem. Contact us if you have research collaboration opportunities.

Arcadis – Biofiltration, innovation program

As part of the Water Research Foundation project 4749, Arcadis worked with us and other utilities to optimize biofiltration for manganese removal. Through this collaboration, we learned about observations made at other utilities and considered how they could be applied at WSSC Water.

Black and Veatch - Enhanced Biological Phosphorus Removal

Black and Veatch is helping to design and provide technical support in piloting the innovative use of fermenting organisms to remove phosphorus and reduce the amount of chemicals needed to remove phosphorus at our water facilities.

Brown and Caldwell – Carbon efficient nitrogen removal

We are partnering with Brown and Caldwell and Northwestern University on a Water Research Foundation project to demonstrate innovative process control and optimization to achieve carbon-efficient nitrogen and phosphorus removal. This application would reduce energy and chemical usage while the facility reliably meets stringent nutrient limits.

Bucknell University – Bioenergy

To inform the design of the Piscataway Bioenergy facility, Bucknell conducted pilot testing using its thermal hydrolysis and anaerobic digestion system to answer key questions about equipment sizing, feasibility, and return on investment.

Dalhousie University – Biofiltration

Dalhousie University analyzed filter media samples for the Potomac Biological Filtration project. Their work identified the amount of manganese removal or adsorption that might be occurring at the media surface. This was part of a larger Water Research Foundation project (#4749) on improving biofiltration in winter.

Fort Detrick – Source water monitoring, Phage therapy

WSSC Water’s Contamination Rapid Response Team worked with a research lab at Fort Detrick to test an early warning method to detect abnormalities in raw water.

Howard University – Resiliency of treatment processes

As part of a National Science Foundation project, Howard University and other collaborators from Rice University and Black and Veatch are assessing whether emerging water resource recovery systems (e.g., membrane aerated biofilm reactors and moving bed biofilm reactors) are more resilient to wet-weather flows than other systems.

Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory – Instrumentation testing

WSSC Water provides access to the T. Howard Duckett Reservoir for the APL to operate a research vessel fitted with sonar instruments for field scale testing.

Johns Hopkins University/Stantec Consulting – Peracetic acid disinfection

We worked with Johns Hopkins University in conjunction with Stantec on the Peracetic Acid Pilot testing through a pipe reactor at the Parkway WRRF. The testing identified that PAA is an effective disinfectant.

National Science Foundation (NSF) – Research funding

NSF funded a six-month internship where a Rutgers PhD candidate served as a microbiology technical expert to WSSC and conducted applied research.

North Carolina State University

Participated in a research project that explored how utilities protect the security of water distribution systems and how researchers can better support those efforts.

Penn State University – Product development, biosolids treatment

We have funded three capstone projects with Penn State University’s Learning Factory since late 2018. Each project team has participated in brainstorming and developing remote valve positions indicators and dewatering flow meters. Each capstone team delivers a conceptual design with recommendations for the next steps.

The Penn State Olfactory lab also quantified the biosolids odor (characteristics and intensity) from two of our WRRFs. This included blending one facility's biosolids to resemble a soil amendment to identify whether or not that strategy could address odor challenges at that facility.

Rutgers University – Biofiltration

We partnered with Rutgers University on the Potomac biological filtration pilot. A National Science Foundation-funded PhD candidate served as a microbiology technical expert to WSSC, collecting samples, analyzing results and conducting advanced microbial analyses.

U.S. Department of Agriculture/Agriculture Research Service – Water sampling equipment testing

The USDA’s Agricultural Research Service utilized WSSC Water’s T. Howard Duckett Reservoir for testing innovative water sampling equipment and related electronic instrumentation.

University of Maryland - Phosphorus treatment, recovery, and reuse

The overarching goal of this project is to develop and assess a sustainable and practical method to enhance nutrient removal and recovery in wastewater treatment with a focus on phosphorus recovery.

University of Maryland Baltimore County - Phosphorus recovery

WSSC Water provided wastewater and solids matrices for one of UMBC’s research labs to test the efficiency of a new membrane process in extracting and recovering phosphorus from these mediums.

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill - Microbial source tracking

UNC’s Institute of Marine Sciences provides specialized analytical services for the microbial source tracking and water quality monitoring program of the Sanitary Sewer Overflow Consent Decree, using a quantitative polymerase chain reaction method.

Virginia Tech - Biosolids treatment, drinking water biofiltration, corrosion control

WSSC Water is a member of Virginia Tech’s Center for Applied Water Research and Innovation. CAWRI is a great opportunity to have research projects completed at a lower cost and to exchange research findings with other CAWRI utility partners. One project aimed to identify the operational cause of biosolids odor at the Western Branch Water Resource Recovery Facility, which historically struggled with finding disposal options for the biosolids. Virginia Tech has also completed biofilm imaging analyses and served as a technical expert in troubleshooting operations for our Biofiltration Pilot testing at the Potomac Water Filtration Plant.

Water Research Foundation - Research collaborative and funding source

WSSC Water subscribes to this research organization, which brings together stakeholders to find solutions to water industry challenges. We also serve as a participating utility on numerous WRF projects and continue looking for opportunities to leverage funds and address our challenges.

Last Modified: May 19, 2022, 10:17 am EDT