The DC Department of Environment (DDOE) has been working hard - with the limited budget it has - to develop programs that help DC residents help the DDOE deal with some of the environmental problems faced by the metro area. If we all changed some of our habits and made some changes to the way we live, it would make the DDOE's job much easier. A new program gives grants to DC residents to implement landscaping practices that reduce stormwater run off. The program is called RiverSmart Homes.
As you can imagine, an urban area, with its hard, non-absorbent surfaces (eco-lingo: "impervious surfaces") does not absorb much rain water. Where does this rain water go? Well, it goes into the DC sewer system and then out into our local rivers and streams. According to the DDOE website: "As stormwater moves from our yards to our streams it picks up pollutants such as oil and grease from our roadways and driveways, nutrients from fertilizers on our lawns, and bacteria from pet waste and other animal excrement. Once in the stream, the fast-moving surges of water associated with storms cause erosion and destroys habitat for fish and other wildlife."
In addition to this, the District also has a very outdated sewer system - a system called "combined sewer overflow" - where the same pipes carry rainwater off our streets AND carry the sewage (from our toilets, etc.). When there is too much rainwater coming in from the streets, everything gets combined and then, often, the "overflow" is emptied into local waterways (so, um, plastic tampon applicators, mixed with human excrement, mixed with plastic bottles. YUM.)
Also, in DC, certain neighborhoods are prone to flooding with this lovely mixture of human sewage and street junk. Gosh, this is not to mention how plastic bags & bottles and other solid debris from street litter clogs up the whole system. My oh my!
Which takes me back to the the program I mentioned before. RiverSmart Homes will give you money to make changes in your landscaping to capture rainwater and keep it from wreaking havoc in our outdated sewer system.
Let me say that again: THEY WILL GIVE YOU MONEY . . . for such things as:
out the site and sign up for an appt.