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RiverSmart Communities

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The RiverSmart Communities program offers incentives to condominiums, co-ops, apartments, locally-owned businesses and houses of worship who are interested in reducing the amount of stormwater pollution leaving their properties.    RiverSmart Communities offers  financial and technical assistance for property owners to install practices such as rain gardens, BayScaping, pervious pavement, and rain cisterns to control stormwater pollution. 

Stormwater Pollution and the District of Columbia

Stormwater is simply rainwater that, rather than remaining on the land where it falls, it flows off of the site. Rainwater becomes stormwater when rain falls on impervious surfaces such as rooftops, driveways, roads, sidewalks and even lawns. 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 destroy habitat for fish and other wildlife.

Thankfully, new development and large renovations of properties in the District are now required to install items that reduce stormwater pollution. Unfortunately, most of the District was developed before modern methods for controlling and treating stormwater were developed. If your building was built before the 1980s (and chances are it was!), you probably do not have any stormwater controls installed on your property, but there are steps that you can take to reduce stormwater pollution and beautify your yard. RiverSmart Communities can help you.

There are two options to participate in the RiverSmart Communities program:  

Option 1: Rebate (open city-wide)

The RiverSmart Communities program offers rebates of up to 80% of the project cost of specific LID practices to multi-family residences such as condominiums, co-ops, apartments, small locally-owned businesses and houses of worship. This program is open city-wide. Ready to apply? Download application. Feel like you need a little guidance? Sign up for site audit.

Option 2: Design/Build (restricted to priority watersheds)

Properties in designated high-priority watersheds will be considered for fully funded design/build LID projects.   Properties in the Oxon Run and Watts Branch watersheds are eligible for the design/build program. Sign up for site audit.

What kinds of stormwater management practices can be covered?

Grant funding is available to assist for LID such as:

  • Cisterns for rain capture and reuse
  • Rain gardens or bioretention
  • Impervious surface removal or conversion of impermeable to pervious pavement
  • Turf removal with conversion to native plant beds (this practice is only eligible for funding if installed in conjunction with cistern(s)).
  • Or other landscape enhancements with stormwater capture capability

How do I apply for the rebate program?

There are two steps to the application process: 

  • Site audit (optional):  A DDOE stormwater auditor can perform an assessment of the property and make recommendations for potential projects.  This step is optional.  You are welcome to rely on your own or your contractor’s knowledge to determine which stormwater management practice is best suited for the property.
  • Complete application form and obtain supporting documents.

    • Site plan, drawings/schematic of proposed work and stormwater calculations
    • Letters of support
    • Quote from contractor and installation schedule
    • Two year maintenance plan
    • At least 4 photos of current conditions of site location (before photos)

Regulations and requirements are subject to change. 

For more information, please contact [email protected] / (202) 535-1735.

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