WAMU 88.5 : Metro Connection

Filed Under:

D.C. Brings Underground Streams Back to Light

Play associated audio
Broad Branch Stream hasn't existed in decades, but now the D.C. Department of Environment is looking to unearth it.
D.C. Department of Environment
Broad Branch Stream hasn't existed in decades, but now the D.C. Department of Environment is looking to unearth it.

Can you make a river appear out of nowhere? Well, kind of. And now the D.C.’s Department of the Environment is doing just that for the very first time in the city: Taking a stream that was diverted underground nearly a century ago and restoring it above ground.

The process is known as "daylighting," and the first stream to get this treatment is a tributary of Broad Branch Stream in the Forest Hills neighborhood in Northwest D.C. We spoke to project manager Steve Saari to find out what it takes to resurrect a stream, and what other streams could rise up next.

Why Streams Were Piped Underground in the Past

“In the 1800s and 1900s, this is the way cities developed. We wanted to get stormwater quickly away from houses, we wanted to develop densely, and we ended up piping those streams and building over top of them. Suitland Parkway — if you look at Suitland Parkway it is — basically follows and old stream. Piney Branch Road, Spring Road, Broad Branch Road — all these are examples where there were streams above ground that are now underground.”

Bringing Water-Loving Species Back to a Forgotten Stream

“We are going to see species that we haven’t seen here. Because we don’t even have water, we don’t have frogs and amphibians that would normally be here in the spring. I guarantee you this spring there will be frogs and amphibians here that weren’t here previously. Just downstream there are wood ducks that live in the stream. They’re going to start coming up this direction. We’re going to start to see species like that, we’re going to see plants that you wouldn’t find except for in these water-loving environments.”

Excited for the First Project of its Kind in D.C.

“It’s very exciting for all of us. It’s the first time it’s ever happened in the District. It’s one of a couple dozen that have happened nationwide and worldwide. So it’s definitely a unique thing, and it’s taken us about seven years to get to this place to where we’re doing the construction. And of course the construction is only gonna take a few months, so I’m enjoying every moment of the construction.”

Music: "I'm Beginning to See the Light" by Coleman Hawkins from The Best of Coleman Hawkins

The Broad Branch Stream Restoration and Culvert Daylighting Project from 4Site Studios on Vimeo.

NPR

For A Female Banker At The Top Of Her Game, What Does It Take To Stay There?

In the film Equity, investment banker Naomi Bishop navigates the male-dominated world of Wall Street. Screenwriter Amy Fox discusses the film and her research, which included many interviews with women who worked on Wall Street.
NPR

Salvage Supperclub: A High-End Dinner In A Dumpster To Fight Food Waste

The ingredients — think wilted basil, bruised plums, garbanzo bean water — sound less than appetizing. Whipped together, they're a tasty meal that show how home cooks can use often-tossed foods.
NPR

LISTEN: At The DNC, We Asked Women Why They Were Voting For Clinton

We asked women — as young as 4 and as old as 77 — how much the weight of history factored into their decision.
NPR

New Reports Of Hackers In Democratic Party Computer Systems

The Clinton campaign says its systems were not hit but that a program it uses was in the party's compromised system. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee was also hacked.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.