As part of the city’s ongoing outreach efforts, DOEE's Kate Johnson recently shared these and other facts with the more than 40 people who participated in the February 3 APACC meeting on climate change. Events like this are important to keep communities East of the River informed about the likely threats posed by climate change as well as include them in plans for what can be done to improve the resiliency of this region.
Below is a video with highlights from the event as well as five questions and answers about climate change that every organization, policymakers, and residents in Ward 7 & 8 should know.
The Trust has developed a program called “RainPay” that attempts to do just that. It lessens the pollution and erosion effects of street and rooftop runoff by making the ground absorb more, and it gets an income stream into nonprofits in low-income communities. If we can get the program to scale, we are going to employ people, too, to operate and maintain the installations. It’s all paid for with a small portion of the profits from development under the District’s creative Stormwater Retention Credit regulations.
So we’re cleaning up our dirty urban river and promoting resiliency in two ways at the same time.
The National Park Service has released a draft “Management Plan/Environmental Assessment” for the 1200-acre national park that stretches along both sides of the Anacostia River. This is a very significant step forward in the effort to improve the programs and facilities in Anacostia Park. NPS is seeking public comment on the draft plan by March 18, after which it will issue a final plan intended to steer park improvements for the next fifteen or twenty years.
The National Park Service has opened a 45-day public comment period on its draft Anacostia Park Management Plan/Environmental Assessment. Comments will be received through March 18th. The detailed document can be read or downloaded from this link: Anacostia Park Plan.
Since the District of Columbia completed the AWI Framework Plan in 2003 in partnership with 19 regional and federal agencies, multiple entities have led many large and small planning efforts along the Anacostia and in surrounding neighborhoods. This month I explain some of the major planning activities underway within the Anacostia River Corridor, defined as the river, surrounding public land, and neighborhoods and properties within easy walking or biking distance. This post is admittedly longer than any blog should be due to the number of players and plans. However, it’s critical for partners who want to improve the health of the Anacostia and the surrounding lands while providing opportunities for nearby residents to understand how various planning elements and agencies fit together.
On January 24, Senate Democrats presented a plan for investing $1 trillion in infrastructure around the country and the new administration is expected to unveil their own ideas shortly. This discussion is welcome, but so far, both sides are focusing solely on the built environment while ignoring other green infrastructure. This is an unfortunate omission as it overlooks one of our nation’s most valuable assets. As this debate continues to unfold, we sincerely hope that bipartisan consensus can be found for including parks and other public lands in any plans.
The Anacostia River is polluted, but cleaning it up is hard because DC and Montgomery and Prince George's counties are all responsible for it. But the three are working together to change that.
In October, leaders from each jurisdiction signed the Anacostia Accord, a formal commitment to support one another's efforts to work with regional businesses, individuals, and organizations to find ways to clean up the entire length of the Anacostia (and to keep it clean). It will mean sharing best practices, working on region-wide legislation, and making sure the way each calculates pollution reduction is consistent with the others.
The Anacostia Waterfront Trust Board of Directors is pleased to announce that Erin Garnaas-Holmes, an award-winning young urban planner and landscape architect, will join the Trust staff and lead its efforts to envision and help plan an improved Anacostia public waterfront.
Resiliency is a term that’s thrown around a lot these days. At the risk of sounding like I’m just jumping on the band wagon, I see resilience as an important lens for our partners’ work in the Anacostia and other Urban Waters locations. The vision for the Urban Waters Federal Partnership is to “revitalize urban waters and the communities that surround them.” In other words, creating healthy waters and healthy communities by repairing past damage and instilling the ability to withstand future threats.
A close friend of mine told me, “We don’t save the Earth. The Earth saves us.” On a warm, fall day surrounded by smiling children, the restorative power of a river is tangible. Yet I’d argue that this relationship goes both ways. There is a small army of dedicated citizens, organizations and agencies ready to make the Anacostia and its surrounding lands a recreational, ecological and socioeconomic treasure for the region. I am honored to be part of the effort to realize this dream.
On April 20, the District Department of the Environment is holding a public meeting to present the findings of the Anacostia River Sediment Project’s Phase One Remediation Investigation Report. The investigation assessed the types of pollution found in the Anacostia today as well as their concentrations at different points in the river. Data was collected by analyzing sediment samples and fish for a wide array of chemicals. DDOE released the report on March 18 and is now actively soliciting input from the public. Outreach events such as these are necessary for authorities to get feedback and an important venue for interested parties to make their voices heard.
On March 18th, the District Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) released the first phase of a report investigating the levels of toxic chemicals trapped in the sediment along the tidal portion of the Anacostia River. The remedial investigation report is highly technical and difficult for the layperson to follow. In general, it confirms that legacy toxins from former industrial, military, commercial or municipal activities along the Anacostia waterfront and further up in the watershed continue to poison the river. The primary concerns are polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), although pesticides, lead and other trace elements were also found. PCBs and PAHs are implicated in a number of adverse health effects for human beings and animals.
In everyone’s life, there should be a stream, river or lake that provides a special place for recreation and rejuvenation. Unfortunately, many aquatic ecosystems across the country have been degraded to the point that they make the communities that depend on them less healthy. Today, March 22, is World Water Day. The Anacostia Waterfront Trust would like to take this opportunity to make a plea for the forgotten river in our own back yard.
On Tuesday night March 15th the Washington Capitals beat the Carolina Hurricanesin overtime to secure a place in the upcoming playoffs. While team was winning dramatically on the ice, the Anacostia Waterfront Trust was winning, too, thanks to Caps players, fans, and the Monumental Sports & Entertainment Foundation.
The Supreme Court’s February 29th decision not to review a case challenging the legality of the Chesapeake Bay Clean Water Blueprint is great news for the Anacostia and Potomac Rivers. In general, the case was about whether the EPA could set specific targets and deadlines that the states—and by extension—cities and landowners must follow to reduce pollution to the nation’s waters. The details of the case may be numbing to those who are not water lawyers or policy wonks, but the immense benefits of letting the lower courts’ decisions stand will come back to all of us who are DC residents.
What happens to all the water when snow melts? To keep our water clean, DC wants to limit the amount of stormwater runoff a property can have, and create a market for buildings that go over to buy credits from those who don't. If it works, the program will serve as an example for other cities facing similar challenges.
No city in the United States has more of a stake in the National Park Service’s future than the District. The agency, sometimes through contractors, manages more than 6,700 acres of land in the District, including the White House grounds, the Mall and its monuments, Rock Creek Park, three golf courses and two marinas. But within the District, there is no park that needs a new future as much as the 1,200 acres that lie mainly along the east side of the Anacostia River.
We are proud to announce that the Anacostia Waterfront Trust has been selected by a consortium of local foundations to receive a three-year capacity building grant for its Anacostia Park and Community Collaborative.
The Anacostia Park and Community Collaborative is made up of the Trust and twelve other nonprofit organizations. Eight are based in Wards 7 and 8, while four are prominent, DC-based nonprofits with a strong interest in helping to strengthen communities near the Anacostia River and Park. (full list below). Together, the 13 organizations represent the environmental, social service, business, religious, and policy sectors.
Anacostia Park could better serve the needs of the surrounding community if it were easier to access and there were more to do there. Fixing it up could also help protect generations of District residents from the worst impacts of climate change.
Anacostia Park is part more than 1,200 acres of parks and wetlands that sit along the Anacostia River. It’s not in great shape, but there are people working to turn it around. If they succeed, residents are set to reap the health and social benefits that come with quality parks.