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.
Since that time, we have been awarded over $1 million in grants to create a stormwater management master plan and create bio-retention cells all over this city.
What is bio-retention? It is a way to funnel stormwater into tree boxes that are engineered with layers of rocks, soil, and plants to help filter water before it enters our storm drains and, eventually, the Northwest Branch of the Anacostia River and Chesapeake Bay. Prior to my tenure, the City had one bio-retention system on Buchannon Street near the PG Pool. Today, we are approaching 20, like the one pictured below.
One of the long-term goals of the vision is to look into the possibility of "daylighting" two of the currently buried creeks in the City - one is Dueling Creek flowing along Otis Street on the south side of the City; the other, a buried creek running through the Community Food Forest. The idea would be to create 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.