Photograph by Darrow Montgomery
Ever wonder where your poop ends up? I’ll spare you the suspense: on farms in Maryland and Virginia, in the form of fertilizer. In between, it goes through a process of bacterial digestion, nitrogen removal, sludge thickening, and dewatering, all at the Blue Plains Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant. The DC Water facility at the very southern tip of the city is the largest advanced wastewater treatment plant in the world, and it handles about 1,200 tons of solid waste per day. But don’t tell Chris Peot it’s waste. “It’s not a waste material,” insists DC Water’s biosolids manager. “It really is a very valuable product.” You can find out for yourself: DC Water does tours and sends you home with a bag of processed, farm-ready, nearly odorless shit.