Did you know that Watts Branch, the stream which runs though Marvin Gaye Park, is "one of the areas of the city most vulnerable to flooding" according to the Department of Energy and Environment?
What about this: did you know a group of Ward 7 residents, business owners, and other stakeholders has been meeting for the past year to help lead a climate and equity planning effort focused on the neighborhoods around Watts Branch in Ward 7?
The group—the Far NE Ward 7 Equity Advisory Group—is having a community meeting Saturday, September 8 from 10:00 am - Noon at HD Woodson High School (540 55th St NE) to share their recommendations to 1) mitigate the flooding risk and reduce other climate change risks and 2) strengthen the community.
More importantly, though, they want feedback from community members about the group's recommendations and suggestions about ways to promote environmental equity and climate change resilience in Ward 7. The group also wants ideas about strengthening the community.
Breakfast will be served and information about available resources to protect and green your home and community provided. RSVPs are encouraged (for planning purposes) but not required.
A little about Watts Branch
Watts Branch is a stream located in far northeast DC, in Ward 7, and Prince George's County, Maryland. It is one of the largest tributaries to the Anacostia River and the DC watershed includes about 5,500 acres; there are approximately 6,000 acres in PG County.
Up until the late 1920s, the DC watershed was largely treed and farmed. In 1927, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Chesapeake Bay Field Office, took an aerial photograph showing some development of homes and farms. "By the 1980s, most of the land available for development within the D.C. portion of the watershed was probably urbanized." (US Fish & Wildlife Service, Watts Branch, Washington, D.C. Watershed and Stream Assessment, p 11)
With development came contamination. Like other parts of the the Anacostia River watershed, the Watts Branch was neglected for years, resulting in a huge amount of trash contaminating the water and surrounding land, storm water runoff, and failing banks. Two factors further exacerbated historical failures: housing and parking lots. Development around Watts Branch is intense. The Watts Branch Subwatershed Action Plan reports that the Watts Branch subwatershed is a high-density residential development area. In 2009, that meant 6,210 people per square mile lived there. While there is parkland in the subwatershed—Kenilworth Park in particular—"impervious surfaces make up about 31-percent of the subwatershed," at least as of the report date of 2009.
The charge of the Far NE Ward 7 Equity Advisory Group
Made up of residents, businesses and other leaders in Ward 7 with a stake in neighborhoods near Watts Branch, the Equity Advisory Group's task is to
develop priorities for how the District implements two city plans – the Climate Ready DC plan (looking at how to protect the District from the impacts of climate change including more heat waves and flooding) and the Clean Energy DC plan (looking at increasing access to renewable energy like solar power).
Participants will make a difference in their neighborhood by weighing in on actions on climate change and other core concerns for Ward 7 in ways that are equitable and supportive of the local community. Depending on the group’s priorities, the EAG may inform District actions related to:
- Clean and affordable energy;
- Preparedness for extreme weather, heat, and flooding;
- Open space and parkland; and
- Housing affordability and economic development.