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DC Appleseed Center Update

2nd Quarter 1999

733 15th Street. Suite 700 Washington. DC 20005
Phone: (202) 393-1158 Fax: {202) 393-1495 E-mail:

DC Appleseed Proposes Lasting Solution to the District’s Stormwater Pollution Problem
Upcoming Citizens’ Forum on D.C. Council Reform
Updates on Other DC Appleseed Projects

DC Appleseed Proposes Lasting Solution to the District's Stormwater Pollution Problem

In April 1999, DC Appleseed released a report — Managing Stormwater Pollution in the District of Columbia A Lasting Approach that recommends a solution to a significant environmental problem that, if not resolved, could result in significant federal fines being levied against the District of Columbia.

Heavy rainfalls in the District — as in other cities throughout the United States — cause some streets to flood, and others to channel water containing garbage and other pollutants into the Anacostia and Potomac Rivers (as well as Rock Creek) that can threaten both human health and marine life. In 1990, Congress mandated that cities such as the District submit plans to the federal government to solve the stormwater pollution problem. Plans were due in 1992, and every other large city has completed a stormwater plan. The District, by contrast, has fallen far behind, subjecting it to the possibility of federal enforcement action and substantial fines.

In November 1998, under pressure from EPA, the District submitted a partial stormwater plan that reflects some progress. However, some questions critical to devising a long-term program to abate stormwater pollution in the District remain unanswered, including how the program will be financed and which D.C. government entity will be in charge. DC Appleseed's report proposes specific answers to those questions.

Financing. DC Appleseed proposes that the District institute a new user fee — estimated to be less than $50 per homeowner per year — that will charge all property owners for the impact their property has on the stormwater system. A user fee is better than other financing mechanisms because it best ensures that the federal government, which owns over 40% of the land in the District, and nonprofit organizations pay their fair share. Any financing system other than a user fee would drive the cost per homeowner for this federally-mandated program substantially higher.

Management. Effective stormwater pollution control requires action by several government agencies, but, experts agree, a well-run stormwater program must be managed by a single government entity. DC Appleseed recommends that the Water and Sewer Authority ("WASA") be the lead agency, and be given the authority and resources to coordinate the program, because WASA, unlike the other agencies with stormwater responsibilities, has managed programs with components similar to those required for stormwater management.

In the coming year, DC Appleseed will work to promote a financing and management structure to coordinate the program, because that ensures that (1) the program fulfills the central goal underlying the Clean Water Act's stormwater requirements — improving the qualify of rivers, streams, and other waterways, and (2) the District removes the specter of federal enforcement action in this arena.

DC Appleseed thanks the Project Team (listed below), and The Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, The Spring Creek Foundation, and The Summit Fund of Washington for their contributions earmarked for this report, as well as the Fannie Mae Foundation, Philip L. Graham Fund, Eugene & Agnes E. Meyer Foundation, and the Trellis Fund for their general operating contributions, which helped make this report possible.

Stormwater Project Team

Terry Davies, Resources for the Future
Kate Probst,
Resources for the Future
Sarel Kromer
Steven Schatzow,
Morgan, Lewis `& Bockius
Anna Laitin, DC Appleseed Center
Jonathan Wilan, Leboeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae
Sarah Layton, American Public Works Association
Joshua S. Wyner, DC Appleseed Center

Affiliations listed for identification purposes only.

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Scott Turow and Mayor Anthony Williams will speak at the DC Appleseed/Appleseed Foundation annual dinner, to be held at the Organization of American States Building on Thursday, October 7, 1999.

Ticket and table purchase information will follow soon.

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Upcoming Citizens' Forum on D.C. Council Reform

In early 1999, DC Appleseed and the National Conference of State Legislatures released separate reports that found serious problems at the District of Columbia Council and recommended overhauls in the Council's operations (see 1999, 1st Quarter Update). The Council responded to the reports by enacting a few reforms in March, including revisions to the rules governing the conduct of debates at Council meetings. These reforms suggest that the Council is willing to listen, but not nearly enough has been done.

On Tuesday, June 8 from 6-8 pm, D.C. Council Chair Linda Cropp and 16 local organizations will cosponsor a forum on this important issue at the University of the District of Columbia. It will be moderated by WUSA's Bruce Johnson and will include a discussion of the Council's operations by a knowledgeable panel. Members of the public will have the opportunity to ask questions. Please join us to learn more about this issue, to share your concerns, and to demonstrate to the Council the importance of reforming its operations. Further details can be found in the enclosed flier.

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Updates on other DC Appleseed Projects

Public School Governance Reform

As noted in the 3rd Quarter 1998 Update, DC Appleseed is studying options for improving the governance of the District's public school system, which is scheduled to be returned to the elected School Board in June 2000. Our research is well underway, and includes a literature review, interviews with local education leaders and experts in schools and school governance, and an examination of governance structures in other cities and states. DC Appleseed plans to release a report in the early fall, and will subsequently remain active, encouraging the public and policy makers to consider actively how the future governance structure can promote the best possible classroom education.

  • The D.C. Council passed the "Location of Federal Facilities in the District of Columbia Sense of the Council Resolution of 1998" in December 1998, which includes DC Appleseed's proposal.
  • The National Capital Planning Commission Task Force on the District is working with DC Appleseed to develop an executive order that would implement our recommendations.
  • Several nonprofit and trade organizations have joined a coalition endorsing DC Appleseed's proposal.

Federal Facilities

DC Appleseed continues to educate the public and policy makers regarding the need to retain federal jobs in the District of Columbia. In the year since the release of DC Appleseed's federal facilities report, our proposal for new requirements toward this end has gained support.

New Projects

DC Appleseed will begin two new projects in June, one to evaluate the law governing public charter schools in the District of Columbia as well as the procedures used by the District to approve, evaluate, and fund these charter schools; and the other to examine the provision of legal services to the District of Columbia government by the Office of the Corporation Counsel, agency attorneys, and private attorneys hired on a fee-for-service basis. Future Updates will report on these projects as they progress.

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DC Appleseed Seeks Office Furniture

On July 1, 1999, the DC Appleseed Center will move into new office space, in Suite 330 of the same building (you will receive a change of address card). We are seeking office furniture donations — particularly a conference table (and chairs) that seats 8-12 people. Please call us if you have furniture to donate.

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Citizens’ Forum on D. C. Council Reform

Tuesday, June 8th, 1999, 6-8 pm
University of the District of Columbia, Building 46 Auditorium

4200 Connecticut Avenue, NW (Nearest Metro--Van Ness/UDC, Red Line)

Admission is free

Reform of the Council of the District of Columbia developed as an important topic of concern in recent months. The DC Appleseed Center and the National Conference of State Legislatures released separate reports recommending major reforms to our local legislature earlier this year. The Council is now considering these and other recommendations.

Join the town meeting to discuss several issues, including what changes can be made to ensure that —

  • the Council fosters more meaningful and inclusive public participation in legislative deliberations?
  • public hearings are well-publicized, and begin and end on time?
  • the public is provided notice and opportunity for input prior to any vote on legislation?
  • legislative documents are more accessible and are written in clear and understandable language?
  • the council staffing, structure is more efficient and effective?

Bruce Johnson, WUSA (Channel 9)

Opening Remarks
Linda Cropp, Chair, D.C. Council


Mario Acosta-Velez, Latino Civil Rights Center
Dorothy Brizill, DCWatch
Mary Jane DeFrank, ACLU of the National Capital Area
Kwasi Holman, D.C. Chamber of Commerce (invited)
Liz Siegel, DC Action for Children
Joslyn (Josh) Williams, Metropolitan Washington Council AFL-CIO


D.C. Council Chair Linda Cropp
ACLU of the National Capital Area
Committee of 100 on the Federal City
DC Action for Children
D.C. Affairs Section, District of Columbia Bar
DC Agenda
D.C. Consortium of Legal Services Providers
Downtown Cluster of Congregations
Fair Budget Coalition
Federation of Citizens Associations
Friends of the Earth
Gay and Lesbian Activists' Alliance
Greater Washington Board of Trade
Latino Civil Rights Center
League of Women Voters of the District of Columbia
Metropolitan Washington Council AFL-CIO
University of the District of Columbia

For more information, contact the D. C. Affairs Section of the D. C. Bar at 626-3463

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