The UDC Bertie Backus Campus green infrastructure treatment train project is an innovative parking lot retrofit nestled into the urban fabric of the rapidly transforming Fort Totten Metro Station neighborhood in NE Washington DC. The project carves out a 500 square foot bioretention from a 15,000 square foot parking lot. The bioretention underdrains into (and serves as the pre-treatment for) an innovative rainwater harvesting system, where two 1,700-gallon underground cisterns store and pump water through drip irrigation across a newly planted conservation landscape and bald cypress grove.
The existing landscape was an under-utilized patch of grass with compacted soils and a single declining Japanese cherry tree. To transform this space into in a conservation landscape, the soil was first amended with 15 yards of DC Water biosolids, Bloom, and tilled in with skid-steer mounted trencher prior to planting. The existing streetscape provided the impetus and inspiration for the planting plan.
The community partnerships that contributed to the success of this project really highlight how UDC was a key convenor to leverage both the unique site opportunity in the neighborhood as well as the institutional and educational programs and relationships of its own to amplify the project. Through a unique partnership with NC State, stormwater engineering services were provided by NC State graduate students. UDC graduate students from the College of Agriculture Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences (CAUSES), whose research stipends were partially funded by the grant project budget, installed and maintained rainfall, moisture sensor and water quality monitoring equipment. The project site will perpetuate on campus as a learning laboratory for UDC graduate students, NGICP participants and UDC’s Master Naturalist volunteers.