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Watts Branch Watershed Project Highlights Call of President for Innovative Solutions to Environmental Sustainability

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(Washington, DC) Mayor Vincent C. Gray, joined by Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, Councilwoman Yvette M. Alexander, EPA Region 3 Administrator Shawn Garvin, and more than 100 environmental advocates, celebrated the ceremonial ground breaking of the Watts Branch Restoration Project last Friday, February 4, 2011 at 44th and Hayes Street, NE. The event signified the first installment of the Mayor’s commitment to restore parks, rivers and streams in the District, boost the growth of green jobs, improve quality of life, and revive neglected neighborhood resources for District residents.

This project illustrates President Obama's recent call for using innovative solutions to promote environmental sustainability. The Mayor has taken up the President's challenge to innovate, build and educate our communities as pathways to "Winning the Future."

The restoration project, which is made possible by a $2 million grant from the Federal Government, will reduce stream bank erosion, improve water quality, and restore aquatic habitat. Stream restoration will reshape the channel to reduce erosion, create pools and riffles to support aquatic life, and reestablish streamside vegetation. Stream restoration is one part of a multi-agency, collaborative effort to improve water quality of the Watts Branch Watershed and the Anacostia River. Other projects include DC Water rehabilitation of sanitary sewers, construction of stormwater management facilities for roads and schools, and a range of community and action actions to reduce the amount of stormwater runoff from impervious areas.

“This watershed restoration project is pushing us to expand our imagination and utilize unique ways of managing stormwater,” says Mayor Gray. “By restoring the natural systems for our urban watersheds, we are allowing stormwater to remain on the landscape where it can be useful and prevent water from carrying pollution downstream to our streams and rivers.”

Citing the Woodson High School as a good example of utilizing stormwater or rainwater in an innovative way, the Mayor said. “At H.D. Woodson, we will install green roofs and cisterns to irrigate plants and flush toilets with recycled water. These actions help us meet President Obama’s challenge for cities across America to find innovative ways of investing in the creativity and imagination of our workers.”

DDOE’s Director Christophe Tulou agrees, adding that these types of watershed restoration projects can improve neighborhoods and the quality of life for residents and help the environment. “We are challenging ourselves to explore innovative ways to enrich our natural resources and our community,” Director Tulou said. “For the sake of our environment and in the spirit of innovative thinking, we are moving toward together as ‘One City’ to create a healthier, sustainable environment.”