Restoring a Stream, Restoring a Community

by Lori Reynolds

narsWhile I enjoy coming into the office and working side-by-side with my colleagues on water infrastructure financing, whenever I get the chance to get out and see how those funds are making a difference in communities and to shake hands with our partners, I jump at it.  Numbers on a ledger come alive in real projects helping real people.

I had that opportunity last Friday for the opening of the Nash Run stream restoration and trash capture project, located in the Kenilworth neighborhood in northeast Washington, D.C.

Nash Run was a typical urban stream, impacted by stormwater flows, choked with trash, and a nuisance to the neighbors.   Besides trash and debris, stream flooding caused trees to fall and backyards to disappear into a muddy Nash Run.

In early 2010, the District Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) was contacted by local residents about the stream conditions.  Although a recognized challenge, DOEE shared the concerns and offered assistance.  It wasn’t long before a partnership and bond formed between the community, led by Ms. Katherine Brown, a block captain, and Josh Burch in DOEE’s Planning and Restoration Branch.

Over several years, community volunteers worked to remove trash from the stream and DOEE set out to secure needed funding.   Using funds from the District’s bag fee, DOEE began project design.   EPA provided federal funding for stream restoration and a trash trap with additional funding provided by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF).

Trash trap on the Nash Run stream which captures litter, projects wildlife and improves water quality for the Anacostia River.

Trash trap on the Nash Run stream which captures litter, protects wildlife and improves water quality for the Anacostia River.

Although the funding is important and it made the project possible, it’s the heart and soul of all the people involved that made this enterprise a success story.  Josh Burch worked tirelessly getting easements along the stream and those residents remained involved and engaged throughout the project.

The opening ceremony was marked with words of appreciation and gratitude spoken by Ms. Brown and Josh Burch and words of congratulations expressed by EPA’s Region III Deputy Regional Administrator Cecil Rodrigues, as well as Amanda Bassow of NFWF.

As a long time EPA employee, it was a proud moment to be part of something so impactful.   At EPA, we work daily to protect the environment and improve public health, and it was evident that with this project we touched people’s lives.  There were many parents with young children in attendance at the ceremony.   In fact, it was the community members who gathered and cut the ceremonial ribbon.

Because of caring, dedicated people and government support, the children growing up in this neighborhood will experience a trash free Nash Run with turtles, fish, and frogs instead of tires and plastic bottles.  An investment was demonstrated, not only in a stream restoration project but in the people of a community who are committed for the long term.  The Nash Run stream restoration and trash capture project made a visible difference to this local community.


About the Author:  Lori Reynolds works in the region’s Office of Infrastructure and Assistance, which provides funding to states for water and wastewater infrastructure.  She is naturally drawn to water, working in the Water Protection Division, swimming in pools and open water as part of a Master’s swim team, and as an Aquarius.


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