District Stormwater, LLC partnered with the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington in a first-of-its kind green infrastructure project within DC’s historic Mount Olivet Cemetery (MTO). With a mix of impervious area removal, tree plantings, and green infrastructure the project captures approximately 5 million gallons of stormwater runoff per year.
This project excelled in its approach to community engagement and innovative design adaptations to overcome the challenges of working in a historic cemetery. Liners and underdrains were used in all facilities to eliminate concerns of potential infiltration from the surrounding groundwater. Through ongoing conversations with Mount Olivet Cemetery, green infrastructure projects were developed to bring the best available science to a spiritual setting, and work with the church to strike a harmonious balance for both people and nature. In addition to careful study of the cemetery’s topography, soil composition, and design, the project also employed ground-penetrating radar to ensure that construction plans would maintain the sanctity of the grounds. The space was designed with direct input from the community through a series of meetings facilitated by The Nature Conservancy where community members offered thoughts and feedback during the design process. In 2018, the Archdiocese recognized the importance of this area of the cemetery by installing a bronze memorial plaque to commemorate and honor the many enslaved people who are buried on the grounds.
In addition to replacing hardscapes with green infrastructure, partners came together with the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington to create a new commemorative prayer garden enhancement at Mount Olivet. The new memorial green space will address multiple urban conservation needs while also providing visitors with a place to rest and connect with nature.