Did You
KNOW?

  • The cost of one bottle of water from a vending machine is equivalent to the cost of drinking 8 glasses of tap water every day for a year.
  • A gallon of water weighs 8.34 pounds.
  • The Water Authority maintains almost 1500 miles of drinking water pipes. If you put them end-to-end, they would stretch from Roanoke to Colorado Springs, CO.
  • At one drip per second, a faucet can leak 3,000 gallons of water per year.
  • Water is the only substance naturally found on earth as a solid, liquid and gas.
  • Over 713 gallons of water go into the production of one cotton T-shirt.
  • The Authority’s Water Pollution Control Plant is regarded as one of the best bird-watching areas in the mid-Atlantic region.
  • The Water Authority maintains over 6,000 fire hydrants in our service area. Fire hydrants are connected to the public drinking water distribution lines, so water from a fire hydrant is drinking water.
  • There are over 23,000 manholes in our service area.
  • Carvins Cove Natural Reserve is the second largest municipal park in the United States.
  • The Authority’s Water Pollution Control Plant covers over 100 acres of land.
  • More people in the world have a mobile phone than have a toilet.
  • The Water Authority treats 19-million gallons of drinking water a day although we have the capacity to treat 56-million gallons per day.
  • The Authority’s Water Pollution Control Plant treats almost 37-million gallons of wastewater a day from all across the Roanoke Valley.
  • There are 51 drinking water storage tanks in our service area. They each hold between 500,000 – 2-million gallons of water.
  • Most of the treated drinking water used in a home is for toilet flushing.

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Bird Watching at the Regional Water Pollution Control Plant

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The Roanoke Regional Water Pollution Control Plant has enjoyed a long history as one of the best birding locations in the Roanoke Valley and is one of the primary stopover locations for migrating birds.

Birding Permits

To ensure safety of all our visitors, permits are required for those wishing to access the plant for bird watching. One-day temporary passes can be obtained from the WPC Plant Administration office. Those interested in obtaining a permanent pass can complete the attached form. Please note that it will take five business days to complete the registration process for a permanent pass. Temporary access can be granted in the interim period.

Passes are available at the:

WPC Plant Administration Office
1502 Brownlee Avenue SE
Roanoke, VA 24014
(540-283-8269)  Please call for details before your visit.

Access to the plant is granted Monday-Friday from 8am - 4pm.

Those wishing to obtain a bird watching pass much attend a brief safety orientation conducted by plant staff.

What to Expect while Birding at the WPC Plant

  • The WPC Plant features many different habitats that attract woodland, aquatic and grassland birds. The biosolid lagoons attract birds who prefer coastal mud flats or tidal pools. Birders can walk on gravel roads within the plant along the Roanoke River, next to the biosolids lagoons and adjacent to the wooded areas. As this is an industrial area, bird watchers are urged to use caution while at the plant.
  • Birders may also wish to walk along the Roanoke River Greenway (www.greenways.org) which runs through the rear of the WPC Plant property.
  • Two platforms have been constructed at the WPC Plant where visitors are invited to sit and watch the birds. One of the platforms is ADA accessible.
  • Over 242 species of birds have been documented at the WPC Plant including 62% of the birds native to Virginia.

Information about the Roanoke Regional Water Pollution Control Plant

255.4C08Constructed in 1951, the Roanoke Regional Water Pollution Control Plant provides wastewater treatment service for all jurisdictions in the Roanoke Valley. The facility occupies a 24-acre tract of property in southeast Roanoke City. With an average receiving flow of 37-million gallons per day, a drop of water entering the plant takes approximately 19-hours to move through all levels of the treatment facility. Along the way, more than 3,000 lab tests are conducted every month to verify that the liquid treatment process is meeting or exceeding water quality standards. The Regional Water Pollution Control Plant has some of the most stringent requirements for treatment of any plant in Virginia. Fully treated water is discharged to the Roanoke River.

Biosolids remaining after the digestion process is finished stay in lagoons at the plant for an additional nine months while anaerobic and aerobic bacteria consume any remaining organic matter. Once fully treated, the biosolid material is land applied to farms as fertilizer at no cost to farmers. More information about beneficial biosolids land application is available from the Virginia Biosolids Council.

The facility utilizes two 500-kW generators to convert waste methane gas produced in the digestion process into usable energy. The combined heat and power (CHP) system supplies thermal energy to heat the existing digesters and electrical power that is used by the plant to reduce the plant’s electrical utility power usage. Excess heat not used by the digesters supplies thermal energy to absorption chillers to heat and cool the buildings located on the plant site, further reducing the plant’s electric usage. The CHP generation system offsets approximately 7,577 MWH of purchased electrical power and reduces an estimated 4,600 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually.

The Western Virginia Water Authority has been recognized every year since 2012 with the Platinum Excellence in Management Award by the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) and received NACWA's Gold Peak Performance Award every year prior to that starting in 2009. This award is given to facilities that achieve 100 percent compliance with their NPDES permits for an entire calendar year.

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