RiverSmart is a grouping of programs that helps homeowners and schools retrofit their properties to capture rainwater. The District Department of the Environment (DDOE) has worked with students and teachers on schoolyards since 2006 (RiverSmart Schools), single family homeowners since 2008 (RiverSmart Homes), and multi-family homes since 2011 (RiverSmart Communities), and has provided rebates for impervious surface reduction since 2012 (RiverSmart Rewards). In addition, DDOE has provided a green roof rebate since 2008 (RiverSmart Rooftops).
Much of the District’s housing stock as well as most schoolyards will not be redeveloped in the foreseeable future. As such, new stormwater requirements will not impact a large percentage of the District’s land area (of which 27% is residential). Since these areas were developed prior to the existence of stormwater regulations, the properties have outdated, or in many cases, nonexistent stormwater controls.
Given this reality, incentive programs to retrofit properties are essential to improve local waterbodies. The RiverSmart funding award varies depending upon the landowner and particular practice, but in general, DDOE conducts stormwater audits, manages contractors, and partners with nonprofits to implement the retrofit practices. DDOE has enlisted the critical support and participation of four local nonprofits (DC Greenworks, Casey Trees, Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, and Anacostia Watershed Society). Currently, the RiverSmart program is funded primarily through the District’s stormwater enterprise fund and is an MS4 National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit deliverable.
Through the RiverSmart program, homeowners and schools have become actively involved in solving the District’s stormwater problem. Although DDOE plays a significant role in administering the program, it is the homeowners who make decisions about how they will make a difference. With this decision comes a sense of ownership and a renewed sense of commitment to improvement of the urban environment.
Results to Date:
- RiverSmart Schools: To date, the program has engaged more than 35 schools, installing two large cisterns, six bioretention cells, two stormwater wetland projects, four transformations of asphalt grounds into natural habitat, three permeable pavers projects, and numerous conservation gardens.
- RiverSmart Homes: More than 2,800 RiverSmart Homes assessments have been conducted. The program has installed 1,738 rain barrels, 1,566 trees, 190 rain gardens, 368 BayScapes, and 54 impervious surfaces replaced with pervious surfaces.
- RiverSmart Communities: Four large low-impact development projects will be installed in late 2012.
- RiverSmart Rooftops: Fifty-three green roofs have been partially funded through this rebate program.
- RiverSmart Rewards: DDOE is developing a stormwater fee discount program available to all residential and commercial properties. Property owners can eliminate up to 55% of the fee if all stormwater is retained onsite. This program will be operational in 2013.
Chief, Planning and Restoration Branch
Watershed Protection Division
District Department of the Environment