In June 2018, I presented the Mayor and Council with my short, medium, and long-term plan for stormwater management in the City. The plan calls for the City to develop a phased-in approach to better manage our stormwater runoff, and make what in my estimation is the biggest positive contribution to our local environment.
The first phase is to develop a management ecosystem of partners in both the public and private sectors of Mount Rainier, and also find a way to study our current stormwater flows to set a baseline as to how much unfiltered stormwater currently enters our storm drains. Towards that end, I am working with the Green Team to build relationships with local parishes, who can access grant money or resources only available to faith-based entities to improve their stormwater management practices. I have also met with the County's Stormwater Management Division to ensure we take the right first step in getting an engineering firm to conduct our baseline study. As that effort will not be cheap, they have directed me to grant funding opportunities.
The second phase is to identify areas where we can build bio-retention systems that filter water through layers of plants and rocks before it enters storm drains and, eventually, the Anacostia River and Chesapeake Bay. This will not be Mount Rainier's first look at bio-retention. We currently have a bio-retention system on Buchannon Street near the PG Pool that helps filter stormwater before entering the Northwest Branch of the Anacostia River.
The third phase is to look into the possibility of "daylighting" two of the currently buried creeks in the City, creating a beautiful habitat here in the City that better filters stormwater through the natural creek beds that originally existed here. This process can be expensive, but grant money is available. Whether we can get that kind of money is dependent on whether we can deliver on the first two phases to demonstrate Mount Rainier's logical and long-term commitment to improving how we manage our stormwater.
As someone who cares deeply for the environment, it can be overwhelming to ruminate over the lack of urgency and action at the federal level to save our planet from catastrophe. It is reassuring to know that in our little corner of the world, we have the power to do our part. Towards that end, I am of the opinion that out of everything we could do as a community, better managing our stormwater runoff can have one of the most lasting effects on our global environment. As a City, we send tons of gallons of water unfiltered from our streets down into storm drains that feed directly into the Northwest Branch of the Anacostia River - carrying with it all the pollutants and debris from our streets. We can do better. By figuring out ways to filter stormwater through bio-retention systems or revitalized creeks before it hits the Anacostia watershed, we can do our part to make the dream of an Anacostia River that is swimmable and fishable a reality.