||This Masters Project (MP) addresses the serious water quality issue of the Anacostia
River in the District of Columbia. Focusing on non-point source pollution, the research
explores the need for a more unified approach to stormwater runoff policy in DC and
how specific examples from across the country can be applied to create a solution.
It provides recommendations that will help reduce the burden on the combined sewer
overflow (CSO) system that empties into the Anacostia River. Reducing the burden on
the CSO system will reduce the number of overflow events during storms. Reducing overflow
events and increasing runoff infiltration will have a direct effect on the water quality
of the Anacostia River by reducing the quantity of raw sewage, trash, toxicants, and
debris that enter the river.
The research questions explored are:
•What are the roadblocks to effective stormwater management in the District of Columbia?
•What are the most effective strategies to eliminate CSO events?
•How can a DC stormwater overlay district improve the water quality of the Anacostia
Extensive literature review and interviews were conducted to define the current stormwater
management approach in the District of Columbia. The interviews clarified common goals
and conflicting objectives for stormwater management, as well as the degree of stormwater
management fragmentation in the District. Analysis of the research and interviews
led to the identification of gaps in stormwater policy. Further research was conducted
to seek successful, model, local government stormwater district policies from across
the country. Additional interviews were conducted with representatives of these municipalities
(South Burlington, VT, Philadelphia, PA, Pittsburgh, PA, Anne Arundel County, MD,
and Portland, OR) to learn about the development and implementation of the specific
program, as well as its successes and opportunities for improvement. A cross-case
comparison was conducted to compare each program’s features and explore its applicability
to the District of Columbia. Limited content recommendations were then developed for
an Anacostia-specific Stormwater Management Overlay District, and implementation strategies
The results of the research, interviews, and analysis indicate that a Stormwater Management
Overlay District would be an effective tool to reduce the burden on the Anacostia
River CSO system. The overlay district will help to increase stormwater infiltration
as runoff passes through the watershed. This tool could be used as a model for urban
cities across the country that are facing similar CSO and stormwater management issues.