The Alliance is excited to launch a new project, Maintaining Best Management Practices in the Anacostia Watershed, funded by a Small Watershed Grant through the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation (NFWF).  The Anacostia watershed has been identified by federal and state entities as a priority for restoration and maintenance.  Through this new effort, the Alliance and its partners will directly support local under-served communities through:

  • green infrastructure education
  • project assessments
  • maintenance assistance and training
  • and the establishment of local community maintenance groups.  

The goals of this project are twofold:  to increase the functionality of green infrastructure practices for healthier lands and water and promote workforce development opportunities, particularly within overburdened and under-resourced communities.  We hope to see an increase in more green jobs, including the training and employment of residents of the District of Columbia and returning citizens.

Why is maintenance important for Green Infrastructure Projects? 

The Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay has been restoring the lands and waters of the Chesapeake Bay for over 50 years. A lot of effort throughout the Chesapeake region has gone into developing partnerships, obtaining grant funding,  educating the public, and implementing projects to improve the Chesapeake watershed.  Most of the time, the focus has been centered on installing new projects that create something brand new in a community and generate lots of excitement. Over time, however, the mundane job of maintaining these installed projects is often overlooked and forgotten.

The responsibility of maintenance is often confused or miscommunicated between installers and property owners. This can be a big concern considering maintenance is the most important factor in ensuring the new project continues to function as designed.  Too often, this results in great projects falling into disrepair and eventually disappearing. Many individuals and organizations have brought the importance of maintenance to the forefront, but the lack of available funding for maintenance has severely limited the ability to make sure projects continue to decrease stormwater runoff and erosion, improve water quality, and provide wildlife habitat, as they were designed.

For years, the Alliance has highlighted the importance of maintenance following project installs and has continually looked for opportunities to incorporate routine maintenance.  It not only takes funding but also education and action from individuals and communities to ensure maintenance doesn’t take a backseat to new project installs.

A Welcome Change: Prioritization of Maintenance

As previously mentioned, much of the Chesapeake restoration energy and attention has been centered on the installation of new projects, with maintenance often left to best intentions. The Alliance is thrilled that the District Department of Energy & Environment (DOEE) prioritized the maintenance of green stormwater infrastructure (GSI), allocating a significant amount of funding to their new GSI Maintenance Program.  This program, administered by the Alliance in partnership with local landscape contractors, will ensure that GSI practices within the District continue to function to provide the stormwater benefits as originally designed and installed.  

A major goal of the GSI Maintenance Program is to train and sustainably employ District residents and returning citizens in green infrastructure.  The Alliance is proud to partner with Clean Decisions, Ancient Greene, and Rock Creek Conservancy on this program.  Each of these contractors hires District residents, and, thanks to the DOEE grant, are able to sustainably employ them year-round.  In addition, training in green infrastructure maintenance will be provided by the Chesapeake Conservation Landscaping Council (CCLC) through its Chesapeake Bay Landscape Professional (CBLP) training.  Each local contractor and their crews will participate in CBLP-Crews training to gain valuable field experience in GSI maintenance as they embark on the regular maintenance of District GSI.

Championing Community Leaders

To round out the Alliance’s efforts to prioritize local under-resourced communities, green infrastructure, and maintenance, the Alliance is partnering with DOEE through their RiverSmart Homes Landscaping grant to launch a new Ambassador Program initiative.  This program will support community leaders to act as liaisons between the RiverSmart Homes program and their communities.  RiverSmart Ambassadors will have the tools and support to engage members within overburdened communities where they are.  Starting with Wards 7 and 8, Ambassadors will provide information about stormwater issues and how RiverSmart Homes may be able to address community concerns.  This program will enhance the reach and impact of RiverSmart Homes by addressing stormwater concerns at a more localized and personal level, increasing access to environmental benefits to ALL communities in the District.

Engaging local residents in RiverSmart discussions

Looking to the Future

Investment in local communities and fostering stewardship are two essential practices for a healthier and more resilient Chesapeake Bay watershed.  The Alliance remains committed to developing opportunities for equal access to environmental support Bay-wide.  We look forward to working with communities within the Anacostia watershed and throughout the District in providing GSI installation and maintenance services while developing localized support.  Together, we can make a difference: For our Forests, For our Streams, For our Future.