DC Water Updates ANC 3B on $2.6 Billion Clean Rivers Project

At the February ANC meeting, DC Water attended to inform the community about potential changes to its $2.6 billion Clean Rivers Project.  The project is funded by a surcharge on water and sewer bills – about $10-$20 a month for most Glover Park and Cathedral Heights homes.  The basic goal of the project is to redesign the city’s antiquated storm water and sewer system to eliminate the “combined sewer overflows” that dump millions of gallons of raw sewage into the Potomac, Anacostia, and Rock Creek during periods of heavy rain.

DC Water has already started work, beginning to drill a massive 10-mile tunnel along the Anacostia to collect the sewage overflows and treat them before they reach the river.   This part of the project is expected to be complete in 2022.

The next phase of the project would involve miles of similar tunnels to prevent overflows into the Potomac River and Rock Creek.  But DC Water told the ANC about their plan to modify this second phase of the project, replacing the “gray infrastructure” tunnel with “green infrastructure” – green roofs, urban gardens, bioretention areas (like the new rainwater collection area at 37th and Tunlaw), and even simple techniques like downspout disconnection –  that would reduce runoff rates naturally, reducing the number of combined sewer overflows.

Under the latest plan, DC Water would replace five miles of tunnels with $90 million worth of green infrastructure in Glover Park, Georgetown, and other neighborhoods that drain into the Potomac or Rock Creek.

This could obviously have enormous benefits in our community – making it a greener and more pleasant place to live, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and saving money.  But there is a catch.  The DC Water plan would push back the time of the completion of the project by seven years, from 2025 to 2032 – extending the wait for DC residents to fulfill the long-held dream of a clean, swimmable Potomac River.

ANC 3B will be providing comments on this plan.  You can view information on the plan here.   And if you’d like to comment on the plan, please email us at info@anc3b.org