Newport News: Brackish Water Gets Fresh

by William B. Suratt, P.E., Envir. Engr.; Camp Dresser & McKee, Inc., Cambridge, Mass.,
Gary A. St. John, P.E., Envir. Engr.; Camp Dresser & McKee, Inc., Cambridge, Mass.,
Ronald E. Harris, Water Resour. Proj. Mgr.; Newport News Waterworks, Newport News, Va.,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1997, Vol. 67, Issue 7, Pg. 55-57

Document Type: Feature article


Rapid growth was straining freshwater supplies in Newport News, Virginia. Studies showed Newport News Waterworks that they could be facing a 30 mgd deficit by 2040 and ran a 50% chance of depleting existing supplies through 2005. Since surface supplies are difficult to develop, Newport News Waterworks and its consultant Camp Dresser & McKee, Cambridge, Mass., decided to look not around, but down for its new water source. In 1995, the Waterworks began a pilot program to determine the potential for drawing and desalting up to 7 mgd from the local Upper and Middle Potomac aquifers. Test showed that a reverse osmosis plant could desalinate water at competitive prices, so in May, Newport News Waterworks began construction on a $13 million project that will feature a plant, six production wells and eleven monitor wells. The project is scheduled for completion in August 1998.

Subject Headings: Fresh water | Salt water | Wells (water) | Consulting services | Water supply | Aquifers | Osmosis | Desalination | Virginia | United States

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