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Stream and Habitat Restoration

Photo of wildflowers in field

<< Back to Watershed Protection Planning & Restoration Main Page

The Watershed Protection Division’s Restoration Branch plans, funds, and oversees activities that will protect and restore river, stream and wetland habitats in the District of Columbia. The intent of these activities is to improve water quality in the District’s waterways and improve the ecological diversity found within the District’s borders.

Stream Restoration

Stream Restoration work focuses on stabilizing stream banks, improving water quality, and enhancing habitat conditions in streams across the District. Due to the urbanized nature of the District streams throughout deal with large amounts of stormwater entering the streams during storm events at both high volume and high velocity. These conditions cause high rates of bank erosion which degrades habitat and water quality conditions. Stream restoration work aims to stabilize and enhance stream conditions based on the current urbanized conditions in the District.
image of shoreline with logs and rocks in the woods
To date the District has restored over 4.35 miles (23,000 ft) of stream in the District over the last decade. The Restoration Branch continues to restore streams across the District as opportunities and funding allows.

Stream Restoration Projects by Watershed:

Anacostia Watershed

Potomac Watershed

  • Spring Valley

Oxon Run Watershed

Rock Creek Watershed

photo of a streamWetland Restoration

Wetlands are referred to as nature’s kidneys as they help to filter river water by absorbing and processing pollutants. They additionally provide valuable habitat for riverine birds, fish, and mammals, help reduce flooding, and act as areas for carbon sequestration which can help mitigate climate change. The Anacostia River has lost over 2,500 acres of wetlands to development and infill over the past 200 years, but efforts are ongoing to enhance existing wetlands and create over 100 new acres of wetlands by 2032.

Over the past 20 years, DOEE and its partners have implemented several wetland restoration projects and have several in the planning or design process.

For more information read the history of wetlands in the District.

Restoration Projects:

- National Geographic Video Featuring Broad Branch Stream Restoration


A complimentary project to treat stormwater runoff is the RiverSmart Homes project. DDOE is piloting this project in the Pope Branch watershed with the expectation that 75 homes will take advantage of the program’s subsidies and will do their part in helping to clean up Pope Branch.