It is an exciting time to be in our nation’s capital. Here, at the confluence of the Anacostia and Potomac Rivers, is Southwest DC, where water from four states comes together, offering the greatest opportunity to reconnect with our surroundings. The waters of the Southwest Waterfront are in need of our help. Our community has a keen interest in the health and vitality of our majestic waterways. With the concentration of development along the Southwest Waterfront, it is time to protect what we have.

A great way to help protect our waterways is through the use of “green roofs.” A green roof usually consists of a waterproof layer covered by a lightweight planting medium and a bed of hardy low maintenance plants. Green roofs retain rainwater, which decreases runoff. Decreased runoff helps to prevent pollutants, like lawn fertilizer, automobile fluids, and other debris, from entering the Anacostia and Potomac Rivers.

Greens roofs also serve as a stormwater management tool, minimizing sewage overflows, flooding, and the need for expensive infrastructure upgrades. They ease pressure on the District’s antiquated combined sewer system, which, during storm events, releases untreated sewage into the Anacostia and Potomac Rivers. This is a tool to help provide better water quality for fishing, boating, and the viewing of wildlife.

Additionally, green roofs are financially beneficial for home owners. While more expensive to install, over their lifetime they save money. Savings include lowered heating and cooling costs, and an increased roof lifespan. Moreover, green roofs add to property values and a building’s marketability. Many of the homes in the Southwest Waterfront lack private green space. Green roofs help provide this valuable amenity.

The District Department of the Environments, administered through the Anacostia Watershed Society (AWS), provides a rebate to help property owners with the costs of installing a green roof. Throughout the District, residential and commercial buildings of any size are eligible to receive a green roof rebate worth up to $7 or even $10 per square foot.

For more information, please contact AWS by phone :301-699-6204 Ext. 114 or on the web at:

By: William Nesbitt

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