FEMA Celebrates Disaster Resilience Month with Visit to DC Water Plant to Highlight Floodwall Project

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Release Date:
August 28, 2023

PHILADELPHIA - Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Senior Officials, Victoria Salinas and Janice Barlow, toured DC Water’s Blue Plains Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant to celebrate Disaster Resilience Month this August. The tour highlighted the innovative work the District of Columbia and DC Water are doing to reduce flood risk. 

Along with officials from DC’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency (HSEMA), FEMA leaders were given an overview of DC Water’s emergency management program and the work they’ve been doing to mitigate hazards. The Blue Plains facility is the largest advanced wastewater treatment plant in the world, servicing more than 2.5 million people in Washington DC, Maryland, and Virginia. It is located at the southern tip of the District along the Potomac River and has experienced flooding due to hurricanes and storms in the past. 

Over the past seven years, DC Water has applied for and received several types of FEMA funding to develop, plan, and construct a floodwall around their Blue Plains facility. Currently one section is finished, with three more planned soon using FEMA funding. When complete, these floodwall segments will protect the plant from a 500-year flood event, keeping critical infrastructure safe and operating 24/7. 

Blue Plains Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant 08232023
FEMA, DCHSEMA and DC Water leaders together during a tour of the Blue Plains Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant on August 23, 2023

“Reducing risk to critical infrastructure is a high priority for FEMA,” said Victoria Salinas, FEMA Senior Official Performing Duties of Deputy Administrator of Resilience “DC Water’s Blue Plains facility tour illustrated how FEMA funding is being used to reduce risk from future flooding, and a commitment to building resilience in Washington DC, Virginia, and Maryland.  Between these investments and a planned micro-grid, this means that this wastewater system that serves over 2 million residents will remain operational during extreme events.  This utility will now be protected from the devastating effects of climate-related storm surge and sea level rise for years to come.”

Once FEMA awards the latest grant funds, the agency will have invested more than $22.7 million in this project through the Pre-Disaster Mitigation (PDM), Flood Mitigation Assistance (FMA) and Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) programs. 

“DC Water is a great example of how a utility, community or municipality can leverage the many different types of FEMA funding available to fund not only the construction of a project, but the planning and scoping phases as well,” said FEMA Region 3 Deputy Regional Administrator Janice Barlow. “It was exciting to see firsthand the work DC Water is doing to protect critical infrastructure that affects many residents throughout Region 3.”

During the month of August, FEMA is highlighting successful mitigation efforts across the country to raise awareness of ways communities are being more climate resilient. You can learn more here



Victoria Salinas is the Senior Official Performing Duties of Deputy Administrator for Resilience at FEMA and Janice Barlow is the Deputy Regional Administrator for FEMA Region 3.

FEMA’s mission is helping people before, during, and after disasters. FEMA Region 3’s jurisdiction includes Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. 

Stay informed of FEMA’s activities online: videos and podcasts are available at fema.gov/medialibrary and youtube.com/fema. Follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/femaregion3.

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