Leveraging Green Infrastructure for the Triple Bottom Line
September 27, 2023
Our gray infrastructure is getting a lot of attention these days, and deservedly so. But those deep tunnels are not the only impressive aspect of the Clean Rivers Project. Our summer intern @Khadija Elmewafy wrote this update on our green infrastructure work that is providing great benefits in the District.
As we come closer to spring 2024, DC Water is nearing the completion of its second green infrastructure project in the Rock Creek area. Started in 2022, the Rock Creek Project is contributing to the enhancement of the area's aesthetics and fostering a healthier living environment.
Green infrastructure projects along with other Green Initiatives, are constructed by DC Water as ways to have a more positive impact on the environment and as steps towards achieving the District’s plan of making Washington, DC the greenest and healthiest livable city in the United States.
Bioretention sites, known as rain gardens, and permeable pavements are being constructed in the Rock Creek area to aid in capturing stormwater runoff. A primary objective of implementing green infrastructure is the mitigation of combined sewer overflows (CSOs), which is achieved through the GI’s ability to imitate natural water processes. These mechanisms reduce the strain on the sewer system, as they slow down runoff. Reduction of peak flows and infiltration of runoff into the ground prevents the sewer system from reaching capacity, and overflowing into waterways.
Green Infrastructure projects bring triple bottom line — environmental, social, and economic benefits to their communities. Through the reduction of pollution and bacteria, GI helps in addressing environmental challenges and combating climate change impacts. Its additional attributes, such as its ability to lower summer temperature, and enhance natural habitats, make GI a vital component of having “greener” communities.
Moreover, GI brings social advantages to the community, as it enables access to cleaner water, and improved air quality, and contributes to the aesthetic improvement of its surrounding neighborhoods. Economic benefits are brought to the community, with the opportunity that comes with GI for the increase in job demands necessary to support the projects including maintenance and construction jobs, as well as training programs that help improve communities' quality of life.
DC Water is continuing its efforts towards green innovation, with multiple new projects in the planning stages. In the upcoming two years, the next GI “Project C” design will be complete. To learn more about DC Water’s Green infrastructure initiatives, make sure you visit dcwater.com/green.