Mayor Vincent C. Gray

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October 06, 2011

DC and EPA Take Major Step toward a Water Friendly District  

‘MS4’ Permit Will Help Improve Quality of District’s Waterways

Media Contacts

(WASHINGTON, DC) – The District Department of the Environment (DDOE) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) yesterday unveiled a new stormwater permit that will help reduce the polluting effects of heavy rainfalls in the District.

The permit, known as the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System, or MS4, requires development projects include plans to ensure buildings retain more rainwater that falls on roofs, sidewalks and driveways. Engineers and architects can do this through methods such as vegetative or “green” roofs, cisterns, permeable paving, water-absorbing tree boxes and other techniques. Such efforts can help prevent runoff into wastewater systems -- thus reducing the flow and pollution load that stormwater places on area waterways. Special fees based on the amount of a property’s impervious surface will fund the District’s responsibilities under the permit.

“This new MS4 Permit will help the District demonstrate that, once again, the nation’s capital is acting as a world leader in sustainable cities,” said Mayor Vincent C. Gray. “The permit reflects a common commitment of the federal government and the District government to ensure cleaner water and a greener, healthier, and more livable community.”

“This new permit will enable collaboration between federal agencies, DC businesses, academic institutions and citizens in making the District a more water-hospitable urban environment,” said DDOE Director Christophe Tulou. “Historically, stormwater was a hazard to be swept away as quickly as possible. Today, the District recognizes water for the invaluable resource it is. This MS4 Permit is yet another step in that direction.”

The District already has approximately one million square feet of green roofs. The city’s tree canopy is being restored, and District roadway reconstruction projects incorporate stormwater-retention practices.

Through the concerted efforts of environmental groups, the development community, academics, the EPA and District government agencies, the permit balances the need for water responsibility and smart-growth practices with the costs of achieving that goal. Ultimately, the permit will help conserve two of the District’s most valuable natural resources -- the Anacostia and Potomac Rivers.

To view the permit online, visit:

For more information about Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4s), visit

For information on stormwater-retention practices in the District, visit .