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Pilot Project Rain Gardens Soak Up Stormwater

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A completed rain garden installed by DDOE and its partners.
Friends of Rock Creek
A completed rain garden installed by DDOE and its partners.

"Historically, the thing we wanted to do the most was get the water out of our way, off of our feet, and off of our streets as quickly as possible, so we have gutters and storm sewers to get that water out of our life and out of the way," says Christophe Tulou, director of the department.

He says when rain runs off rooftops and sidewalks it takes chemicals and trash along with it -- scouring stream banks and polluting rivers.

So several District agencies are spearheading an effort to soak up stormwater, by adding green spaces to city streets and sidewalks, and planting rain gardens on area lawns. The public-private partnership is called RiverSmart and resident Ann Belenky says she's thrilled to be a part of it.

"We've ended up with beautiful landscaping, and feeling like we’re doing something that’s maybe going to make a difference," she says.

As part of the pilot project, the city has installed new eco-friendly landscaping in Petworth and Chevy Chase. And if the project is successful, Tulou says, the agencies plan to offer similar improvements throughout the District.

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