DC Water Stormwater Park System Washington, DC

ABOUT

Like many older cities, Washington DC was built with a combined sewer system. Over the years the system became overwhelmed by larger storm events, increased development and higher populations. As DC Water evaluated alternatives and augmentations to large tunnels designed to remedy the problems, they issued the Green Infrastructure Design Challenge.

BSD responded to the Challenge with award-winning plans for a city-wide Storm Water Park System. Recognizing the prevalence of vacant city-owned parcels, the team saw an opportunity to put many of them to use as community amenity spaces that would also process and re-use stormwater. Each of the parcels could be programmed to respond to the needs of individual neighborhoods, but all would have in common a consistent capacity for stormwater management. Sustainable site features could include: bioretention areas, pervious pavements, low-maintenance native plantings, landforms constructed with spoils from bioretention excavation to eliminate soil exports, and shade tree placement to reduce heat island effects.

Programming elements, presented in a menu as a kit of parts, could include: community gardens, dog parks, mini –amphitheaters, plazas and benches, playgrounds and fitness facilities, picnic areas and recreation elements like bocce courts and horseshoe pitches.

The BSD identified local organizations that could provide support for installation and maintenance through their green jobs training programs. This mutually beneficial system would provide training and job opportunities as well as longevity for the storm water parks.

Preliminary calculations showed that enormous benefits could be gained by this park system – socially, economically and ecologically.