DC Water Green Infrastructure, Clean Rivers Project (District of Columbia/Washington D.C., Virginia, Maryland)

The District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority (DC Water), the District of Columbia, the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have established an agreement which allows DC Water to pursue an integrated green/gray infrastructure approach to reduce combined sewer overflows into rivers and to capture rainwater. The agreement addresses water quality and supply issues in the Rock Creek and Potomac watersheds which traverse Maryland, Virginia, and the District. 

Under the terms of the legal agreement, DC Water is implementing the $2.6 billion Clean Rivers Project. The first phase of the project is underway and involves constructing a massive underground tunnel system to control combined sewer overflows to the Anacostia River. These overflows, which currently discharge about 1.3 billion gallons of diluted sewage to the Anacostia River in an average year, will be reduced by 98% when the tunnel system is completed in 2022. The later phases of this plan include the construction of similar tunnels to control overflows into the Potomac River and Rock Creek.

Green infrastructure offers environmental, social, and economic benefits in that it can increase property values, beautify neighborhoods, cool extreme summer temperatures, support natural habitats, enhance public space and support local green jobs. According to DC Water, green infrastructure and other improvements will bring the District improved water quality and environmental and social benefits within the first few years of implementation.

DC Water also will establish a local jobs program that includes training and certification opportunities for District residents interested in green infrastructure construction and maintenance jobs. They have set a goal to have 51% of new jobs created by the green infrastructure project filled by District residents. DC Water will also engage professional service firms and contractors based in the District to perform work associated with green infrastructure.

In 2012, EPA signed a Partnership Agreement with DC Water and the District of Columbia to advance green infrastructure in D.C. The "Clean Rivers, Green District" agreement outlines collaborative steps to support green infrastructure to achieve sustainable stormwater management, more livable communities, and other environmental improvements in the region.


Publication Date: May 2015

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