DC Bag Fee Creating Green Jobs in DC and Maryland

DC Greenworks is a Washington, DC, nonprofit social enterprise that consults, designs, and installs low-impact development projects to protect the environment. In that vein, the organization manages rain barrel installation for the District Department of the Environment’s RiverSmart Homes program.

A third of their funding for the rain barrel program comes from the Anacostia River Cleanup Fund, aka the bag fund. This additional funding has substantially increased what they are able to do.

In 2009, before the fee went into effect, DC Greenworks installed 400 rain barrels at homes around the District. This year, with the additional funding, they expect to install 1000 rain barrels!

This increase has led them to hire two part-time installers. Peter Ensign, the organization’s executive director, says that the rain barrel manufacturer, RiverSides, is ramping up production to meet the growing local demand. Though based in Toronto, the organization has added a manufacturing site at C.R. Daniels, a textiles, metal, and durable plastic factory in Ellicott City, Maryland. This move has piqued interest by Montgomery County, too, who is considering increasing the scope of its rain barrel program (Rainscapes) with this new local source.

Rain barrels improve water quality by capturing rain that falls on roofs and allowing residents to use the stored water during dry spells. This practice reduces the runoff that pollutes streams and rivers, while also reducing the amount of drinking water residents must pay for to water their landscapes.

In a press release, Marcus Ginder, Chair of RiverSides RainBarrel Group, says they expect the move will help them develop additional partnerships in the region. They also currently provide barrels to Greenbelt Cooperative Homes. “With this move to Maryland,” says Ginder, “RiverSides RainBarrels will have a greater capacity to serve Chesapeake Bay protection organizations and municipalities with effective solutions to the stormwater problems plaguing old sewer systems.”

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