By Chris Weiss, Executive Director, DC Environmental Network
All Metro-Washington environmentalists are invited to an important brown-bag, networking opportunity:
On February 2nd at Noon (1100 15th Street NW, 11th Floor) the DC Environmental Network (DCEN) will host an important and critical discussion about plans to implement the District’s NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System) Permit. This permit authorizes stormwater discharges but more importantly requires implementation of stormwater controls that may help in keeping pollution out of our rivers and creeks.
The current permit includes a list of control measures to implement including green roof installation requirements, tree canopy enhancements, and other programs and activities to curb polluted stormwater. Some of these measure include specific targets and dates to complete while others do not have much specificity as to when or how they will be implemented.
Representatives from the District Department of the Environment (DDOE) will brief DCEN on the details as to what we need to achieve in 2012 and how they will implement the most important stormwater control measures.
Our DDOE panelists will include:
- Christophe Tulou, Director, District Department of the Environment
- Hamid Karimi, PhD., Deputy Director, Natural Resources Administration, District Department of the Environment
- Jeffrey Seltzer, Stormwater Administrator, Stormwater Management Division, Natural Resources Administration, District Department of the Environment
The health and economic vitality of our city is tied to our rivers and creeks.
Aggressive implementation of this permit could be the most important determining factor in the next few years towards making real progress to restore the Anacostia River, Potomac River and Rock Creek.
All are welcome and urged strongly to attend.
by Chris Weiss, Executive Director, DC Environmental Network
On January 5th the DC Environmental Network (DCEN) convened a discussion on Rock Creek sustainability. Our mission was to figure out what challenges Rock Creek was facing and what can we do to protect this important resource. Another goal was to highlight a very important waterway that sometimes is forgotten, even neglected by the broader environmental community as we focus our attention and energies on the Anacostia and Potomac rivers. Communicating the importance of including Rock Creek as we develop our environmental goals, particularly as Mayor Gray moves forward with his Sustainable DC initiative, is critical.
Our discussion included presentations by Beth Mullin, Executive Director of the Rock Creek Conservancy and Tara Morrison, Superintendent of Rock Creek Park, one of the many National Park Service green spaces in the District.
Beth Mullin, Executive Director, Rock Creek Conservancy:
Beth gave participants an overview of the size of Rock Creek which includes over 5,000 acres of parkland, around 2,000 acres in Rock Creek Park (including sections outside of the watershed) and about 3,000 acres in Montgomery County and City of Rockville. Beth shared many of the benefits Rock Creek brings to area residents including recreation, history, nature, learning, community and tranquility to name a few. Beth stressed the importance of creating the next generation of environmental stewards by figuring out how to bring more young people to Rock Creek. She also highlighted some of the sustainability challenges including old facilities, trash, erosion & flooding, disappearing tree canopy, invasive plants and an expanding deer population. Beth shared what the Rock Creek Conservancy is doing to meet these sustainability challenges including stream teams, partnerships with government agencies, “extreme” trash cleanup’s and supporting the District’s RiverSmart Washington program. It was clear that much needs to be done and that we all need to chip in to put Rock Creek on a path to sustainability. See Beth’s PowerPoint Presentation.
Watch Beth’s Presentation:
Tara Morrison, Superintendent, Rock Creek Park:
Superintendent Tara Morrison, who joined Rock Creek Park in May of 2011, thanked Beth for bringing up many important sustainability issues for Rock Creek. Tara stressed the importance of Rock Creek Park as a resource to the region. She stressed the importance of working together to make sure the park survived for future generations. She shared that the National Park Service is responsible for quite a bit of parkland outside of Rock Creek Park. Tara talked of recent successes including the re-opening of Pierce Mill, opening of the final phase of Georgetown Waterfront Park, re-opening of Battleground Cemetery and the re-dedication of the Khalil Gibran memorial. She talked about numerous friends groups that Rock Creep Park works with including the Rock Creek Conservancy, Dumbarton Oaks Park Conservancy, the Friends of Georgetown Waterfront Park, Friends of Pierce Mill, Friends of Montrose Park and others.
“Working to address a mandate by the Environmental Protection Agency to reduce nutrient and sediment flow into the Chesapeake Bay, the park recently evaluated the merits and feasibility of hundreds of possible stream restoration, trash and stormwater management projects proposed by the District of Columbia Department of the Environment for Rock Creek land. These projects included rain gardens, bio-swales, reforestation and regenerative stormwater conveyances to slow stormwater flows into Rock Creek and remove nutrients before they enter the creek.” – Tara Morrison, Superintendent, Rock Creek Park
Tara identified non-native invasive plants as an extremely important issue and outlined plans to protect the park from this threat. She talked about a growing partnership with the District Department of the Environment including efforts to restore tributaries to Rock Creek. This includes the Phase II Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP) and efforts to reduce nutrient and sediment flow into the creek. She expanded on the impacts of too many deer on the parks environment and talked about soon to be implemented deer management plans.
Watch Tara’s Presentation:
Both presentations were positively received and were followed by an open discussion in which DC Environmental Network participants shared their ideas about what Rock Creek needs to do to become more sustainable. Check back to view this discussion!
In the last decade and 1/2, DCEN has engaged numerous times on behalf of Rock Creek and the surrounding open spaces. Our clean water campaign has worked hard to curb the amount of raw sewage and polluted stormwater that make its way into the creek. DCEN was also a leader in efforts to close a dangerous and expensive road and create a hiker/biker trail in Klingle Valley. DCEN has also supported efforts to increase access to Rock Creek Park for schools, residents and visitors by closing Beach Drive to vehicular traffic on weekdays. DCEN has also promoted policies to reduce invasive plant species and restore and increase the tree canopy on park-lands throughout the District. We also support humane management methods for dealing with wildlife. We have an established track record on these issues which is why we strongly support many of the sustainability efforts of the Rock Creek Conservancy and Rock Creek Park.
We will most likely be holding a smaller discussion for the most interested parties to formulate some goals in 2012 we can all work on. If you are interested give me a call at 202-518-8782 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
by Mike Barrette, Vice President, DC Sun
Re-Posted from DC Sun Blog
Now is the time to get in line for a DC Solar Rebate – before the funding is gone! Prices of solar panels are at an all-time low, making the decision to go solar a great long-term investment. A recent comparison of solar costs in the District indicates that the return on investment from installing solar panels varies from 6-10%. The existing 30% Federal tax credit, along with renewable energy credits that accrue with your solar project, make the economics of solar very favorable.
Strengthening the economic case for solar even more is the District government’s rebate program. These DC rebates are designed to encourage renewable energy and foster a new homegrown industry (jobs in DC!!). If you are able to get in on the DC solar rebate, your rate of return rises into the double digits, and your initial investment can be paid back in 6-7 years. For many DC homeowners on the fence about going solar, the DC rebate is the incentive that motivates them to move forward. Below, I examine your chances of getting a DC solar rebate – and it looks like time is running out!
As background, realize that the DC rebate program is a four-year program, which is now in its last year. DC is authorized to release $2 million dollars this year for rebates. Rebates for a typically-sized system are about $6,000. Rebates are issued on a first-come, first-served basis from a waiting list that you can join on the DDOE Website.
Last week, I asked the DC Department of the Environment for an update on their progress for releasing those funds now that we are one quarter of the way through the fiscal year. It is important that these projects continue to be funded at a rapid pace, otherwise the program will expire before funding is released to those on the waiting list. DDOE reports as follows:
- $25,000 has been paid out (5 requestors have received checks)
- $598,000 are in the final approval stages (86 requestors will receive checks soon)
- 383 additional projects are on the waiting list.
- DDOE reports that usually about 40% of those that submit the initial application actually decide drop out of the process.
- Assuming that 230 of the 383 people on the waiting list are funded at an average of $6,000, then the full $2 million will be expended and new entrants to the waiting list will not be funded.
- If the average rebate award and/or the acceptance rates are higher, some at the bottom of the existing waiting list may not receive funding from the $2 million pot.
- If the average rebate or acceptance rate is lower, new entrants to the waiting list may get funding (so act fast and get your name on the list).
What If You Miss Out???
- It is possible that the DC Sustainable Energy Utility (SEU) will add funding for additional solar rebates – they added a small amount last year.
- Community activists with DC SUN are calling upon the DC Council, Mayor, Department of Environment, and the SEU to work together to renew the DC solar rebate program for another four years.
- DC SUN’s proposal is discussed in this blog post.
To help demonstrate the effectiveness and interest in this program, DC SUN urges residents to put their names on the DC Renewable Energy Incentive Program Waiting List (Click Here for a step-by-step guide on how to reserve your place the list). This will help in our effort to get this great job creating program back on track for those residents that were not able to participate in the first four years of the program. Because the solar rebate program is funded by electricity surcharges that are NOT scheduled to go away, DC SUN thinks that the extension of the program is an important way to promote a sustainable future for DC — a future that involves renewable power coming from the people of the City.