Washington, D.C.'s Watershed Implementation Plan

in millions of pounds per year
Washington, D.C. 1985 2009 2014 2015
2017 Interim Goal 2025 Goal
Nitrogen 6.17 2.88 2.07 2.38 2.57 2.37
Phosphorus 0.09 0.07 0.07 0.13 0.1 0.12
Sediment 17.5 16.95 17.15 19.82 17.21 17.39
Go to the District of Columbia's WIP website >>

Collectively, the EPA's TMDL and the state Watershed Implementation Plans establish the Clean Water Blueprint for the Chesapeake.

Washington, D.C. and the other six Bay jurisdictions agreed to create state-specific plans to implement 60 percent of their Bay cleanup practices by 2017 and 100 percent by 2025. These plans are called Watershed Implementation Plans or WIPs and will not only help restore the Bay, but will also significantly improve the health of local waterways.


In June 2014, EPA evaluated the District's progress to date. Their findings are summarized here.

Urban Runoff            
Wastewater & CSO            
All Sources
    On track for 2017 target       Within 10% of being on track for 2017 target
    More than 10% off track for 2017 target       *No contribution from this source sector

Combined Sewer Outflow

Source: www.epa.gov/reg3wapd/tmdl/ChesapeakeBay/RestorationUnderway.html
Chart based on data from the Chesapeake Bay Program's 2014 Reducing Pollution Indicator: www.chesapeakebay.net/indicators/indicator/reducing_nitrogen_pollution


2015 Milestones DC
Download the Washington, D.C. Milestones 2014-15 Interim Report


To track progress toward achieving these goals, each jurisdiction established interim, two-year cleanup goals called Milestones, which would be publicly reported beginning January 2011. Two-year Milestones and progress reports are a critical tool to hold the states and the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) publicly accountable. 

In July, 2015, CBF and the Choose Clean Water Coalition (CCWC) released an analysis of each state's progress toward achieving its 2014-2015 Milestones. The goal of this analysis—which focused on the highest priority pollution-reduction practices from each state—was to determine whether the state's progress is sufficient to allow it to achieve 60 percent implementation by 2017.

The District of Columbia is making good progress toward its 2017 goals, with targets for two of the four practices selected for evaluation on track and a third almost on track. The 2015 milestones for three of the four practices have already been met. Strong efforts by D.C. continue to result in improvements to its waterways and deserve recognition. The District had the most green roof installations in North America at 1.2 million square feet in 2014. Its stream restoration projects are also receiving attention for excellence. The daylighting of Broad Branch and stream restoration in Linnean Park won the Stream Restoration category for the 2015 Best Urban BMP in the Bay Award (BUBBA).

While solid progress is being made, more is needed to reach 2017 and 2025 targets. Substantial increases are needed in impervious surface reductions, and urban tree planting must be sustained. The additional planning, funding, and coordination anticipated in its newly proposed Consolidated TMDL (Total Maximum Daily Load) Implementation Plan warrants scrutiny to ensure it does accelerate impervious surface reduction, the highest impact practice to decrease sediment, phosphorus, and nitrogen loadings. DC Water is well on track to meet 2018 deadlines to substantially reduce sewage overflows to D.C. waterways as it is also petitioning the court to replace some planned underground storage capacity with surface green infrastructure, but is asking to delay system completion from 2025 to 2032.

First-year Mayor Muriel Bowser has committed to achieving the goals of the Sustainable DC Plan which complement Bay clean-up goals. These and other commitments from District Department of the Environment Director Tommy Wells are encouraging. The finish line is definitely in sight and the political will seems to be there, but further aggressive project implementation and action from D.C. officials is needed to fully achieve healthy waters.

Assessment of the District of Columbia's Progress on High Priority Pollution-Reduction Practices

check mark On track     x Off track     slightly off track Slightly off track

icon - urban/suburban runoffURBAN/SUBURBAN

Urban Tree Planting slightly off track
The 2015 milestone to plant 382 acres of trees has been met and surpassed. However, D.C.'s plans to begin accounting for tree removal and report a "net" increase in trees in the future, which may result in the District falling short of its 2017 targets. Still, with high planting rates set to continue and the fact that between 2017 and 2025 fewer acres of new trees are needed per year to reach the final target, D.C. is currently on track to meet the 2025 target. Sustaining the current pace of planting, however, will be a challenge as development accelerates to accommodate D.C.'s increasing population.
Stormwater (Polluted Runoff) Infiltration Practices* check mark
The District has already met the 2017 and 2025 targets (originally established in its 2011 Bay clean-up plan) for these popular and best known practices, high-lighting that more aggressive goals are warranted. The District did set a new 2015 milestone goal that is higher than the original long-term targets and is now just 12 percent away from achieving it. With D.C. performing so well in meeting its goals for filtering and infiltration practices that capture, store, and treat polluted runoff in place, we urge it to raise its 2017 and 2025 targets and for other jurisdictions to learn from its performance strategies.
* This category includes infiltration and filtering practices, bioretention, and bioswale.
Impervious Surface Reduction x
The District’s Watershed Implementation Plan relies heavily on this practice to promote infiltration of stormwater runoff to curtail pollutant discharges. This practice is responsible for 79 percent, 69 percent, and 68 percent of the District’s phosphorus, nitrogen, and sediment reductions respectively. With 290 acres treated through 2014, D.C. has surpassed its 2015 milestone, but is far off pace of its targets of 2,056 acres by 2017 and 3,427 acres by 2025. Incentive programs will help retrofit more impervious surface area, but larger scale projects will be required for the significant improvement needed to get D.C. where it needs to be for this practice.
Urban Stream Restoration check mark   Outstanding efforts by the District of Columbia have resulted in almost 23,000 linear feet of restored streams to date. D.C. has surpassed its 2015 milestone, achieved 88 percent of its 2017 target, and is nearly half way to its 2025 target. The restoration of Broad Branch and Linnean Park in 2014 in the Rock Creek watershed is of particular significance for the special methods used and its relationship to upstream runoff control practices. Broad Branch, a portion of which was piped and buried in 1937, is the first stream of its size to be daylighted (brought back above ground) in the Chesapeake
Bay Watershed.

 Source: Chesapeake Bay TMDL website

You can track progress for all Bay jurisdictions on EPA's Chesapeake Stat website. On EPA's Chesapeake Bay TMDL website you can read about progress already being realized.


Apathy, finger-pointing, anti-Bay legislation and lawsuits, powerful interest groups, and a bad economy all threaten to derail the collaborative local/state/federal Bay cleanup. Yet most experts consider this the Chesapeake Bay's best, and perhaps last, chance for real restoration. The problems have been identified; we have the know-how and tools to fix them; and the benefits of a restored Chesapeake Bay manifestly outweigh cleanup costs. If we work together to make the pollution limits work, many scientists believe the Chesapeake Bay will reach a tipping point when improvements outpace pollution and the Bay rebounds exponentially.


In 2017, the District and the other Bay states are to submit a Phase III WIP which will focus on ensuring that all practices are in place by 2025 as need to fully restore the Bay and its tidal waters.

May 2014
D.C. submitted its second set of two-year milestones for 2014-2015 to EPA.

March 2012
D.C. submitted its Final Phase II WIP on March 30, 2012. EPA commented (PDF) (6 pgs, 291KB) on the blueprint May 31, 2012.

February 2012
EPA evaluated the Bay jurisdictions' Draft Phase II Watershed Implementation Plans (WIPs) and 2012-2013 two-year milestones and provided feedback on Feb. 15, 2012.
The Phase II WIPs and the two-year milestones are important elements in helping to meet the Chesapeake Bay Program Executive Council's goal of having all practices in place by 2025 to meet water quality standards in the Chesapeake Bay. View the evaluation for District of Columbia (PDF) (4pg, 30K).

For their Phase II WIPs, EPA asked jurisdictions to make key stakeholders—local governments, conservations districts, farmers, builders and others—aware of their roles in cleaning up the region's waterways, and to strengthen pollution-reduction strategies for any sectors subject to federal enhanced oversight or backstop actions based on the Phase I WIPs and the Bay TMDL issued in 2010. Visit the District of Columbia's website to learn more about the status of their efforts.

November 2011
Final Phase I Watershed Implementation Plans were submitted to EPA by the six watershed states and the District of Columbia beginning November 29, 2010. The WIPs were designed to provide a roadmap for how and when a jurisdiction intends to meet its pollutant allocations under the Bay TMDL. View the Final Phase I WIP for the District of Columbia.

December 2010
The Phase I WIPs were reviewed by a team of EPA sector specialists based on detailed expectations provided by EPA in November 2009 (PDF) and supplemented in April 2010 (PDF) and extensive interaction with the jurisdictions since the submittal of draft WIPs in early September 2010. The WIPs needed to meet the lower pollution limits for that jurisdiction and provide reasonable assurance that the actions identified would achieve the reductions, particularly for non-permitted sources like runoff from agricultural lands and stormwater from urban and suburban lands. The final WIPs represented significant improvements over the draft WIPs, enabling EPA to reduce and remove most federal "backstops" that had been included in the draft TMDL. View the Phase I evaluation for the District of Columbia (PDF).

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