Resilience
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"As the nation’s capital, Washington, DC must be prepared to withstand any natural or man-made challenges that threaten our communities..." - Mayor Muriel Bowser
Changing Climate
Climate Ready DC is the District’s plan to make Washington, DC more resilient to future climate change. Developed by the District Department of Energy and Environment and released in 2016, Climate Ready DC has provided up-to-date data that paints a sobering picture of the District’s vulnerabilities to climate change. In addition to more frequent extreme heat, climate change-related impacts for the District include increased interior and riverine flooding from more frequent and intense heavy precipitation events and rising sea levels as well as increased tidal flooding due to storm surge—all of which affect the Anacostia waterfront and adjacent neighborhoods. Local sea level for the District, for example, has risen 11 inches since 1924 and is expected to continue to rise over the coming decades. These trends create hazards, especially flooding, that threaten not only already completed Anacostia waterfront development or projects in the pipeline, but also areas such as Poplar Point where redevelopment is still years out. Climate Ready DC provides a series of recommendations that, while citywide in applicability, are especially relevant for ongoing and future investments in the Anacostia waterfront. The main goals of Climate Ready DC are to:

• Improve the transportation and utility infrastructure to maintain viability during periods of extreme heat, severe weather, and flooding.
• Upgrade existing buildings and design new buildings and development projects to withstand climate change impacts.
• Make neighborhoods and communities safer and more prepared by strengthening community, social, and economic resilience.

Climate Ready DC also includes a vulnerability assessment for people and communities that combines climate change projections with demographic, health, and economic data to identify areas of the District where residents are more susceptible to climate change impacts due to lack of resources or other challenges. Climate Ready DC identified three areas along the Anacostia waterfront—Buzzard Point, Poplar Point, and Watts Branch—as Priority Planning Areas based on its vulnerability assessment. Priority Planning Areas are areas with the most assets and people at risk.
Resilience is About Equity
When the AWI was launched in 2000, the impacts of climate change on the District were just beginning to be understood. More recently, updated climate science and data has made it clearer that the District of Columbia is vulnerable to a range of climate change impacts that threaten the well-being of District residents, workers and visitors; existing and newer neighborhood development, including along the Anacostia waterfront; and natural and infrastructure systems that support a well-functioning community. As a result of this growing awareness, the District government has been collaborating with community, federal, non-profit, and private stakeholders to plan for a more resilient Washington, DC and implement climate-adaptive solutions for public and private projects. The District’s leadership and commitment in these efforts, along with its partners, will support a world-class and resilient Anacostia waterfront where hundreds of millions of dollars in public and private investments can be better protected from climate threats and continue to serve District residents into the future.
Planning for Resilience and Building for Adaptation
In the wake of this greater understanding of the District’s climate threats, particularly to the Anacostia waterfront, the District government and its public, community, and private partners are implementing Climate Ready DC and developing new strategies, plans, and guidance for a more resilient Anacostia waterfront and Washington, DC. Resilience for Washington, DC is about preparing for and adapting to shocks, such as flooding and extreme heat, and to chronic stresses, such gaining access to affordable housing, that residents face every day and that can make it harder for those residents to recover in the event of disaster. Despite the sobering outlook of the climate-related challenges noted earlier, a range of resilient and climate-adaptive solutions exist that can and are being implemented in the District. The Anacostia waterfront in particular is on the front line of bolstering the District’s environmental resilience. Resilience is a key theme purposefully being integrated into plans that will guide new waterfront neighborhoods, like Buzzard Point and Poplar Point. The Buzzard Point Vision Framework and Design Review Guide, released in 2017 by the DC Office of Planning, provides specific strategies and recommendations for building more flood resilience into this new waterfront neighborhood. These include green infrastructure, natural shorelines, microgrids, and more flood-resilient building and site design.

Additionally, the DC Office of Planning is currently leading an amendment cycle for the Comprehensive Plan for the National Capital: District Elements, the District’s 20-year vision for future growth and development. This amendment cycle will include strengthening existing and adding new Comprehensive Plan policies to ensure future public and private waterfront investments and development are better protected against flooding and other hazards that affect the city’s resilience. Later this year, the District will also release climate design guidelines to assist agencies and the private sector with creating more natural shorelines where future development impact river banks.
When the AWI was launched in 2000, the impacts of climate change on the District were just beginning to be understood. More recently, updated climate science and data has made it clearer that the District of Columbia is vulnerable to a range of climate change impacts that threaten the well-being of District residents, workers and visitors; existing and newer neighborhood development, including along the Anacostia waterfront; and natural and infrastructure systems that support a well-functioning community. As a result of this growing awareness, the District government has been collaborating with community, federal, non-profit, and private stakeholders to plan for a more resilient Washington, DC and implement climate-adaptive solutions for public and private projects. The District’s leadership and commitment in these efforts, along with its partners, will support a world-class and resilient Anacostia waterfront where hundreds of millions of dollars in public and private investments can be better protected from climate threats and continue to serve District residents into the future.
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Resurgence of the Anacostia Waterfront
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