From the ED: Cleaner Rivers, Greener Infrastructure

June 28, 2012

dc greenworks believes strongly that DC Waters’ Clean Rivers project should reflect current best stormwater management practices, which now favor green infrastructure technologies. Since 1996 DC Water has achieved almost a 40% reduction in combined sewage overflows without new tunnels, and a green infrastructure program could substantially reduce the remaining overflows if planned and executed with proper diligence.

The price tag for both the gray or green infrastructure is high, but other East Coast cities, including New York and Philadelphia, have determined there is a cost savings with going green. Add the economic benefits of lower energy and maintenance costs, higher long-term employment opportunities, and a compelling case can be made for the inclusion of green infrastructure as a co-equal or preferred method for reducing DC’s combined sewer overflows (CSOs).

The first of three tunnels in DC has only begun construction and the projected costs are now $2.6 billion dollars. The final cost of the tunnels when completed in 2025 is certain to be higher. And what will be the charges to DC Waters’ ratepayers for these tunnels? In October the ‘tunnel’ charge to a DC homeowner will rise nearly 50% to $9.73 per month, an annual cost of $116.76. In 2020 the charge to homeowners is projected to more than triple to $374.02 per year.

By adding a green infrastructure component, the cost burden shouldered by rate-payers could well be lower. At the same time, tangible benefits of cleaner air, local job opportunities and a greener cityscape would be enjoyed by everyone.

We support DC Water’s efforts to holistically address our sewage overflow and runoff problems, and what we share with the other environmental groups in the area is a strong desire to achieve swimmable and fishable rivers. Reaching these goals requires we implement the most effective technologies in combination with the most beneficial economic strategies.


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