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RiverSmart Homes

The RiverSmart Homes Program, created and overseen by the DC Department of Energy & Environment (DOEE), is a community engagement initiative striving to reduce stormwater runoff from residential properties in the District of Columbia. The program provides homeowners with funding to retain stormwater on their properties.

Stormwater is rainwater that falls on impervious surfaces such as rooftops, driveways, roads, sidewalks and even lawns- then flows off the site. As stormwater flows to our local streams, it picks up pollutants such as oil and grease from our roadways and driveways, nutrients from fertilizers on our lawns, and bacteria from pet waste and other animal excrement. Once in the stream, the polluted stormwater adds to the fast-moving surges of water associated with storms causing erosion and destroying habitat for fish and other wildlife. By capturing and infiltrating stormwater on their properties, homeowners are helping to decrease the harmful stormwater and sewage overflows that run into waterways, improving their city, watershed, and the Chesapeake Bay.

Program Goals

  • Reduce quantity and improve quality of stormwater runoff
  • Recharge groundwater
  • Increase habitat diversity
  • Promote water conservation
  • Promote watershed stewardship

Benefits of RiverSmart Homes to the Homeowner

  • Beautifully landscaped properties
  • Cost savings on water, electricity and lawn-mower fuel and oil
  • Reduced heating and cooling bills
  • Less time devoted to lawn-care, resulting in extra time to relax
  • Reduced stress and better health
  • Higher property values

Benefits of RiverSmart Homes to the District

New development and large renovations of properties in the District are required to have items that reduce stormwater runoff.  Unfortunately, most of the District was built before modern methods for controlling and treating stormwater were developed and therefore may not have any stormwater control measures in place.  RiverSmart Homes provides incentives to beautify your property and benefit the District’s environment by:

  • Minimizing the use of herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers used in conventional landscaping
  • Stabilizing soils, helping to prevent erosion
  • Providing increased habitat for native wildlife
  • Reducing air pollution and the urban heat island effect
  • Treating and infiltrating stormwater on site helping to recharge groundwater levels
  • Diminishing the impact on aquatic life from polluted stormwater rushing to local streams during storm events

Program Options

The RiverSmart Homes Program offers incentives to DC homeowners for installing any of the five different best management practices (BMPs) for reducing stormwater.  The BMPs include: shade trees, rain gardens, BayScapes, permeable pavers, and rain barrels.  The Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay administers both the landscaping and rain barrel programs through RiverSmart Homes.  The landscaping program includes rain garden, BayScape, and permeable paver installations. Both the landscaping and rain barrel programs offer grant and rebate options.

Rebate Programs:

The homeowner applies to the program through the Alliance for one of the following projects: replacement of impervious surface with permeable pavers, replacement of impervious surface with vegetation, installation of a rain garden, and/or rain barrels. The homeowner coordinates and completes the project upon approval of the application, then receives a rebate after the completed project is reviewed and approved by the Alliance.

Grant Programs:

The homeowner applies to the RiverSmart Homes Program through DOEE (http://doee.dc.gov/service/riversmart-homes). Once approved, the homeowner works with the Alliance for installation of rain gardens, BayScape gardens, and rain barrels. Due to high demand, there is a wait list and projects are completed in order of sign-up.

Erin O’Grady RiverSmart Homes Program Coordinator, Maryland & DC Office

Erin is based in the MD/DC Office as the RiverSmart Homes Program Coordinator. She manages the Rain Barrel program which helps DC community members reduce their stormwater runoff by installing rain barrels on their property.

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Jamie Alberti RiverSmart Homes Program Manager, Maryland & DC Office

Jamie is Program Manager of RiverSmart Homes, where she oversees the Alliance's rain barrel and landscaping projects in D.C. Jamie enjoys her current position with the Alliance because it allows her to combine watershed restoration with environmental education opportunities.

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Sarah Davidson RiverSmart Homes Program Coordinator, Maryland & DC Office

Sarah is the Alliance's RiverSmart Homes Program Coordinator, based in Washington DC, where she coordinates stormwater projects and opportunities for community engagement throughout the city.

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