Photo by Melbourne Water.
As GM first reported many, many moons ago, DC Water is under a court decree to address the chronic problem of untreated sewage being dumped into the Potomac and other local waterways. One of the measures it has proposed to tackle the issue is to dig a gigantic tunnel underneath the Georgetown waterfront running all the way to about the Kennedy Center. The agency, however, is now exploring whether it might satisfy its obligations without digging as large a tunnel.
The purpose of the tunnel is to act as a giant underground reservoir to capture excess storm-water during heavy rains. As it is, when the street drains get overflooded, the excess water is directed to a series of overflow sewage drainage pipes which dump into Rock Creek and the Potomac. This wouldn’t be that huge of a problem except for the fact that in older sections of the town like Georgetown, the storm sewers and the household sewers are combined. So after particularly heavy rains, what you flush down the toilet will soon be floating down the Potomac. (Sorry for that graphic image).
For a while DC Water has explored using alternative measures to address the overflow problem. And this week it announced those alternative plans formally. Specifically, it suggests that by implementing “green infrastructure” (or “GI”) enough rain water can be diverted from storm drains in Georgetown to eliminate the need for the tunnel to be built through Georgetown (it would still be built between Rock Creek and the Kennedy Center).
The details are hazy (notwithstanding the fact that the full report is massive), but among the plans would include spending $30 million in west Georgetown on GI projects. These projects would likely include encouraging the installation of rain barrels (GM did it, it’s easy!), rain gardens, green roofs, and impervious surfaces. The report states that it would expect to spend $225k per impervious acre. GM asked DC Water how that money would be spent (e.g. city built projects? financial incentives to residents? etc.) but he didn’t hear back. Given the budgeting, some sort of a targeted financial incentive program seems most likely.
Frankly, GM would love a green roof, especially if the city wants to pay for it (although, the rain barrel has probably accomplished about all the rain water diverting that GM can contribute). But if you have an opinion, submit to to DC Water these ways:
Clean Rivers GI
DC Clean Rivers Project
5000 Overlook Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20032
– Online Survey
More information is available below under “Resources” or by contacting DC Water’s Office of External Affairs at (202) 787-2200.
Public Summit Meeting: The meeting will begin with an overview of the proposed amendments and supporting justification, followed by a question and answer period.
Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments
777 North Capitol Street, NE, Suite 300
Washington, DC 20002,
January 22, 2014 from 2-4 pm.