Will Narrow Focus Sink Plans to Clean D.C.'s Polluted Waters?

A 20-year, $2.6 billion Clean Rivers Project intended to eliminate sewage discharge into D.C. area waterways will benefit the entire region. So, Carol O’Cleireacain asks, why only stick Washington's residents with the bill?

In an opinion piece for The Washington Post, O'Cleireacain, a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution's Metropolitan Policy Program, argues that because the entire region will benefit from the ambitious project being led by D.C. Water to clean up area waterways, they should be an integral part of planning, implementing and funding the cleanup strategy.

"Cleaner water flowing from the Anacostia and Potomac rivers in the District means that downstream jurisdictions have less of a pollution problem to address. Additionally, the effectiveness of water quality improvements taken by jurisdictions upstream of the District are lessened if the Potomac and Anacostia rivers become more polluted while passing through the District."

Citing regional transportation planning as a precedent for cross-jurisdictional cooperation to address regional challenges, O'Cleireacain recommends that, "The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments and D.C. Water should bring together the federal government, the states of Maryland and Virginia, the District and local jurisdictions to sort out a more rational system of payments for the benefits from the area's clean water."

"While no one looks forward to a new cost, the current, fragmented efforts do not match the scale of the problem."

Full Story: D.C.’s big sewer dig: Why the whole region should pitch in


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