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EPA in District of Columbia

RiverSmart Washington Curbing Stormwater Pollution

Stories of Progress in Achieving Healthy Waters

U.S. EPA Region 3 Water Protection Division

Washington, D.C. • July 2, 2015

With support from EPA’s Section 319 program, the District of Columbia Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) is leading an effort to protect Rock Creek and other waters from stormwater pollution by installing and monitoring green infrastructure in two D.C. neighborhoods – Chevy Chase and Petworth.

The $3.2 million RiverSmart Washington project is capturing and filtering stormwater through low impact development (LID) practices that include permeable paving in alleys, roads and parking lanes, rain gardens, bioretention areas and curb “bumpouts.” DDOE anticipates that the practices can capture more than 440,000 gallons of stormwater per 1.2” rain event.

Stormwater runoff carries pollutants from hard surfaces into the District’s storm drain system and streams, contributing to problems in Rock Creek, the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay. The significant volumes of water erode stream banks and create poor conditions for aquatic life.

As a potential model for other areas of the District, RiverSmart Washington is quantifying and assessing the benefits of retrofits in reducing runoff, examining the potential for using LID as a supplement or substitute for “gray infrastructure” as a part of the District’s Long Term Control Plan, and studying durability, citizen acceptance, and ease of LID installation and maintenance.

RiverSmart Washington is a partnership led by DOEE that includes the District Department of Transportation, DC Water, the Rock Creek Conservancy Exit and private companies. The project includes an $800,000 grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, $1 million from DC Water, and $1.4 million from District Stormwater Enterprise Funds. DDOE staff involved in the project are financed by EPA’s Clean Water Act Section 319 non-point source pollution program.

More than one acre of permeable pavement was installed in alleys, roadways, parking lanes and sidewalks using various materials and techniques. Sixteen bioretention areas are capturing runoff.

According to DOEE, a key component of the project was outreach to the community. One project goal was to retrofit as many private properties as possible through the RiverSmart Homes program since about 40 percent of the impervious cover in the project areas was located on private property. Sixtyfour of the 134 property owners installed stormwater practices on their properties. DOEE expects greater stormwater capture than anticipated.

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  • RiverSmart Washington Curbing Stormwater Pollution (PDF)(1 pg, 619 K, 07/02/2015)
    With support from EPA’s Section 319 program, the District of Columbia Department of the Environment (DDOE) is leading an effort to protect Rock Creek and other waters from stormwater pollution by installing and monitoring green infrastructure in two D.C. neighborhoods – Chevy Chase and Petworth.