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Green City, Green Jobs

Since 2013 WIN has been organizing to connect the “Dead Zones” of the Chesapeake Bay to the “DEAD ZONES” of unemployment in many DC neighborhoods.

Parts of Washington DC use a combined sewer system, where a single underground pipe carries both stormwater and sewage to Blue Plains for treatment. When there are heavy rains, these pipes over ow, causing ooding and sewer back-ups in low-lying areas of the city and each year sending millions of gallons of untreated sewage into the Anacostia, Rock Creek, and Potomac Rivers. After the EPA cracked down on DC in 2005, DC Water reached a legal agreement with the EPA under a court order to reduce frequency of these sewer over ows by 96% by 2025.

To clean up the mess, DC Water initiated the Clean Rivers Project which will spend $2.7 billion upgrade of the city’s stormwater infrastructure. DC rate-payers will have to pay for the Project through signi cantly increased fees on their water bills over the next 30 years. Unfortunately, the fees will be quite regressive. Low-income DC homeowners will have to pay at the same rates as wealthier homeowners—eventually up to $1,200/year.

WIN has been organizing to ensure that the Clean Rivers Project produces multiple benefits, in particular jobs for DC residents living in high unemployment zones and returning citizens, while supporting needed improvements to the District’s sewer system the region’s water quality.

Despite District having its lowest unemployment levels in the last ve years, unemployment remains stubbornly high for some DC neighborhoods. Ward 8 has an unemployment rate of almost 18%. The rate is even higher among certain at-risk populations, such as returning citizens and residents without high school diplomas. WIN’s research found DC Water’s employment of local residents was extremely low. WIN’s position is that if DC residents are going to have to pay large rate increases for many years, DC Water needs to increase its local hiring to do its fair share in alleviating unemployment and underemployment.


“There has never been more of a focus on jobs at DC Water ever in its history and it is a result of WIN’s pressure.”

-George Hawkins