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Bringing Sustainability to the Washington Mall

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ENVR E-118 (Megan Epler Wood): Environmental Management

of International Tourism Development

Fall 2010

Bringing Sustainability to

the Washington Mall

A Policy Position Paper

Anshu Kar (GRADUATE STATUS); HUID: 50720594

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1 Executive Summary

In 2007, approximately 15 million people visited Washington, DC generating over $5.5

billion in revenue while supplying $620 million in new tax dollars to the District. Over 70% of

the land in DC is controlled by the National Park Service and more than 9,000 acres or about

24% is devoted to parks. Therefore, the necessity for a protected and sustainable environment

surrounding the monuments and memorials is of utmost importance to the District. The focus

of this report will be to discuss current and future problem areas concerning the Mall and

recommend policy alternatives.

Current and future problem areas encompass three main issues: 1) flooding and storm

water drainage; 2) transportation and air quality; and 3) service agencies. One-third of DC uses

a combined sanitary and storm water system, which means a single pipe carries both raw

sewage and storm water to a treatment facility. Excess storm water causes untreated

wastewater to flow directly into nearby rivers. Transportation and air quality are only getting

worse. By 2030, the area will have added 1.2 million new jobs and more than 1.6 million

people. Consequently, an already stressed transit system will experience greater problems.

Transit work trips are forecast to increase by 35% as an increasing number of people are

expected to use transit to commute to work. Following the same trajectory, air quality will

worsen and total emissions from energy consumption will increase by 35% by 2030 and 43% by

2050. Finally, to make matters worse, the District has several competing interests and a number

of organizational, regulatory, and agency hurdles to overcome. No one agency in the District

has supreme responsibility over any singular issue.

Policy alternatives focus on moving the District towards sustainable urbanism, or drawing

upon the underlying design of the city to make visual and physical connections to these

destinations, promote livability through the treatment of public space, and compact land use.

Specifically, three strategies have been presented the District can adopt to balance the needs of

the built and natural environment around the Mall, they are: 1) improved flood prevention and

storm water control; 2) improved transportation and land use; and 3) improved electricity

efficiency. Instituting these recommendations will help move the District further along the path

towards sustainability at the Mall.

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Contents

1 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY .................................................................................................... 2

2 BACKGROUND ................................................................................................................ 5

3 A CAUSE FOR CONCERN .................................................................................................. 5

3.1 A History of Problems .................................................................................................................................. 5

3.2 Current and Future Status ............................................................................................................................ 6

3.2.1 Flooding and Stormwater .................................................................................................................................................... 6

3.2.2 Transportation & Air Quality ............................................................................................................................................... 8

3.2.3 Who's in Charge? ............................................................................................................................................................... 10

4 A BETTER WAY FORWARD ............................................................................................ 11

4.1 Improved Flood Prevention and Storm Water Control .............................................................................. 12

4.1.1 Reconstructing the 17th Street Levee ................................................................................................................................. 12

4.1.2 Limiting CSO and Improving Urban Waters ....................................................................................................................... 13

4.2 Improved Transportation and Land Use .................................................................................................... 14

4.2.1 Increase the Use of Clean-fuel Vehicles ............................................................................................................................. 14

4.2.2 Reduce Vehicle Miles Traveled .......................................................................................................................................... 15

4.2.3 Improve Land Use .............................................................................................................................................................. 16

4.3 Improved Energy Efficiency ........................................................................................................................

...

...

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