"This is the best example of citizen action keeping government honest," DC Water General Manager George S. Hawkins said during a ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday.
The Palisades Citizens Association, Cabin John Citizens Association and other community and environmental groups advocated for changes around the vents, which impacted their quality of life and the enjoyment of outdoor areas along the canal.
Though it is an "odor control scrubber system," said Hawkins, the NPS ensured that the building around it fit into the landscape of the historic park. "I hope you notice the effort that's been taken to make it look like part of the park."
National Park Service Superintendent Kevin Brandt called the new scrubber system an "incredible accomplishment."
"It really makes a huge difference in the visitor's experience here along the canal," for its 4.7 million visitors and the millions of commuters who use the Clara Barton Parkway.
The system works like a vacuum, sucking sewer gasses into the scrubber. The gasses travel through a tank that contains activated carbon to which odorous components of the gas attach themselves leaving behind the smelly stuff. The non-odorous gas then travel out of the tank and eventually makes its way into the air. The carbon has to be changed periodically, as often as a year, but it can last longer.
The Fletcher's Boathouse scrubber is the first of six such facilities. Three other facilities in Maryland have been completed and two more will soon begin construction in Virginia.