RiverSmart Homes: Permeable Surfaces

Permeable Surfaces

The RiverSmart Permeable Surface Rebate Program captures and treats stormwater on urban private properties to protect local waterways from pollution, while also prioritizing the function of hardscaped or landscaped spaces in the District of Columbia.

The Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, in partnership with the District of Columbia Department of Energy & Environment (DOEE), is offering rebates to qualifying District homeowners, business owners, and houses of worship who remove impervious surfaces and replace the areas with vegetation or permeable pavers.

Why Replace Impervious Surfaces?

An impervious surface is a ground area where water cannot soak through, such as concrete or asphalt driveways, patios, and parking lots. When it rains, water flows over these hard surfaces collecting soil, litter, salt, pesticides, oil, fertilizers, and other pollutants, creating stormwater runoff.

This stormwater drains into manmade drainage systems consisting of inlets and underground pipes commonly referred to as “storm sewers”. Some stormwater entering storm sewers does not receive any treatment before it enters the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers and Rock Creek, and ultimately, the Chesapeake Bay.

Benefits of Permeable Pavers and Revegetation

Permeable Pavers and Revegetation have many benefits including:

  • Decreasing stormwater runoff and erosion by allowing water to soak into the ground
  • Improving drainage in areas prone to flooding
  • Beautifying outdoor spaces
  • Helping our local waterways, and thus the Chesapeake Bay
  • Enhancing stormwater runoff awareness

Program Eligibility

The Permeable Surface Rebate Program is open and accepting new applications. Rebate funding is only available for properties in the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) and the Historic Anacostia neighborhood. Please use this map to determine if your property qualifies for the rebate program. The blue areas on the map are eligible and the gold areas are not.

Check My Eligibility



Before and After Examples

W Before Weidner After

Replacement of impervious surface with vegetation: impervious surface is removed and ground is tilled and planted with vegetation. Native plants are strongly recommended. Garden, sod, grass seed/straw are also allowed. $5.00 per s.f. of project area minimum project area is 200 s.f.

S-Before S-After

Replacement of impervious surface with permeable pavers: impervious surface is removed and replaced with permeable pavers, often a patio or parking area, designed to capture and filter stormwater on property. $10.00 per s.f. of project area minimum project area is 100 s.f.

Please note that any contractor is eligible to remove impermeable surface through this program, but only those with the PICP Record of Completion are eligible to install permeable pavers. DIY is not allowed for permeable paver projects.

Rebate Process

Download and review the Applicant Guide and Application Packet

Select a certified contractor (required)

  • Complete your rebate application and submit with required materials to: cstarobin@allianceforthebay.org. It must include:
    • Before photos
    • Design sketches (before and after)
    • Estimated invoice/quote
    • Perc Test Worksheet
    • Maintenance Agreement, hand-signed (p. 4 of application form)
    • RiverSmart Rewards sign-up sheet (p. 5 of application form)
  • After hearing back about your application, you’ll be able to schedule a pre-construction inspection
  • Once approval for construction has been obtained, call Ms. Utility to ensure utilities will not be impacted