The RiverSmart Homes Program has been having a terrific year. There have been 254 stormwater management projects completed in 2012 thus far, with installations continuing through mid-December.  50% of those projects completed were BayScaping projects. BayScaping is a local term coined to refer to landscaping with plants that are native to the Chesapeake Bay region.

Using native plants- those that are suited for this climate (temperatures, soil conditions and rainfall)- allows homeowners to have low maintenance, hardy, beautiful gardens that provide for native animals and do not require fertilizer. Native plants also have deeper root systems than non-native plants. These deep growing roots aid in stabilizing the steep slopes that many homeowners in DC find themselves struggling to remediate. Stabilized slopes keep untold amounts of soil from washing into the storm drains during rainstorms. Keeping this sediment out of the rivers is crucial for having a clear and healthy Bay. Another 44% of projects completed to date have been rain gardens. Rain gardens are a fantastic landscaping feature that utilizes the deep root system of native plants to draw water down into the ground, naturally filtering out the impurities. Rain gardens also do wonders for the District’s overloaded sewer system. By simply disconnecting a rain downspout from the city sewer system and redirecting this runoff to a rain garden or other vegetated area on the property, each homeowner is able to lessen the amount of water that the sewer system needs to treat. By allowing your native plantings to naturally capture rainwater, not only are we reducing the strain on the city’s sewer system, we can also replenish the groundwater supply.

The removal of impervious surfaces such as driveways or sidewalks, and replacing it with pervious pavers or lawn have accounted for 6% of projects this year. Pervious pavers are a great landscaping compromise; homeowners can retain a hard surface to walk or park on, yet water may soak into the ground through the paver system and in turn keep harmful runoff such as motor oil, gas, fertilizer or pet waste from washing into the sewers that lead to our rivers. At the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, we are very pleased and proud of the work that has been accomplished through the RiverSmart Homes Program this year. We could not have achieved such great output without the continued concern for our environment and interest in the program from DC residents. Thanks to those of you who have participated already and we look forward to working with those of you who plan to take advantage of the program in the future.

You can find more information on the RiverSmart Homes Program at the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay website or on the DDOE website.

For those homeowners who have already completed a RiverSmart Homes project and are interested in completing an additional rain garden or impervious surface replacement project, check out the new RiverSmart Rebate program. This program is also ideal for homeowners interested in doing all or part of the project themselves. You can find more information on the RiverSmart Rebate Program on the DDOE website.