The high dam on the Occoquan River of Northern Virginia, United States of America, was constructed in 1957, forming a drinking water reservoir with a capacity of 37.1 × 106m3 formed by drainage from a 1 460 km2 watershed, and providing a safe yield of 189 251 m3 per day. Deteriorating water quality in the late 1960s led to a special “policy” for the watershed, designed to preserve the reservoir as a drinking water supply. Key provisions of the policy mandated replacement of the watershed's 11 publicly owned wastewater treatment works with a single advanced wastewater treatment plant (AWT), and establishment of the Occoquan Watershed Monitoring Programme. Early results from the programme established non-point nutrient pollution as a major cause of water quality deterioration and resulted in the implementation of non-point pollution controls throughout the watershed during the late 1970s. The AWT plant went on-line in July 1978. Continuous monitoring since 1973 has demonstrated both the necessity and the effectiveness of point and non-point nutrient controls for the preservation of the reservoir's water quality. The AWT plant provides excellent removal of organics and phosphorus, plus complete nitrification. The nitrates are discharged to the receiving stream to enhance conditions in the reservoir. Control policies include land-use management for the preservation of this essential water supply for 750 000 people in the Washington, D.C. suburbs. Land-use management decisions are based on the results obtained with a watershed-reservoir linked computer model which predicts water quality changes resulting from land-use changes.

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