This article originally appeared in The Washington Informer

The Anacostia Waterfront Trust has partnered with the Progressive National Baptist Convention (PNBC) at its Nannie Helen Burroughs property in Northeast where a rain garden has been erected to capture water that can be used as credits and sold to developers to apply to their rain pay tax.

“The significance of this partnership between the Anacostia Waterfront Trust and the Progressive National Baptist Convention to protect and improve the environment in the nation’s capital cannot be overstated,” said Doug Siglin, the executive director of the Anacostia Waterfront Trust (AWT), whose mission includes creating a vibrant and inclusive public waterfront and adjacent communities on a healthy Anacostia River for all residents.

It’s believed that the partnership between PNBC and AWT counts as the first pact where a Black church organization has participated in such a venture.

“The PNBC must be celebrated for its outstanding foresight and world-class leadership,” Siglin said.

“The rain garden that has been installed at PNBC headquarters will not only protect and improve God’s earth consistent with the PNBC’s mission but will bring a modest but important income stream to the Convention to use in its other good works,” he said.

Siglin noted that there’s a long pipeline of other churches in Wards 7 and 8, as well as affordable housing sites, waiting for similar raingardens through the Anacostia Waterfront Trust’s program.

“Many of the churches are affiliated with the Progressive National Baptist Convention, but other denominations are also lining up,” he said.

“For churches and other nonprofits that qualify, it’s a one-time chance to use surplus property to do good works for God’s earth and, at the same time, bring in extra income,” Siglin said.

The AWT RainPay program takes advantage of D.C.’s storm water retention credit program to simultaneously provide additional income to local landowners, particularly those in Wards 7 and 8, while improving water quality and beautifying neighborhoods with green infrastructures like rain gardens.

Established in 2013, AWT’s RainPay program has served a crucial role in the District’s credit trading market providing a tremendous opportunity for landowners in the Anacostia watershed to install storm water projects on their property and generate an income stream by selling credits to the marketplace.

RainPay counts as a way for both sides to meet their objectives.

As an intermediary in the credit trading market, the RainPay program has two complementary components: RainPay Gardens and RainPay Credits.

RainPay Gardens provides landowners in the most critical areas of the Anacostia drainage area with an experienced partner in developing storm water retention that will reduce monthly water fees and create an ongoing income stream.

RainPay Credits provides developers and building owners a simple, easy way to achieve compliance and know that those efforts make a difference by, among other things, driving value around the river.

“We hope that this is just the beginning and we are looking to install similar projects throughout the watershed,” said Chris Karakul, AWT’s water program manager.

“Faith-based institutions will be a key partner as we work to achieve better water quality for the Anacostia River,” he said.

With former D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams serving as board chair, the AWT promotes ambitious ideas to create a world-class Anacostia waterfront where residents come together and collaborate with public and private partners to coordinate and implement efforts to improve the water, land and communities of the Anacostia River corridor.

The Trust ensures that changes within the river corridor contribute toward a unified vision that achieves more than the sum of its individual part, officials said.

In addition to PNBC, the Trust has partnered with Casey Trees, the DOEE, Anacostia Riverkeeper and Green Scheme for different aspects of the project.

Casey Trees has donated two river birch trees for the rain garden while the Anacostia Riverkeeper and Green Scheme will conduct a series of educational workshops at the site.

The Trust promises more announcements soon.

“The PNBC project has been substantially completed. The construction work is done and the plants are in the ground,” Siglin said. “It isn’t beautiful yet, but the plants will be growing and blooming in the coming weeks.”