The DC Neighborhoods At Risk of Flooding As Early As Next Year

by Nena Perry-Brown

2010 flood risks along Watts Branch in Northeast DC, courtesy of DC Silver Jackets. Click to enlarge.

This week's release of drafted amendments to the Comprehensive Plan identify several new priorities for DC, including the need to study flood risks in certain swaths of the city. And there is one area that requires immediate attention.

"The area around the Watts Branch, a tributary to the Anacostia River, is currently at risk of flooding, and is projected to be at increased risk as early as 2020," a newly-added section to the Far Northeast/Far Southeast Area Element reads. "The Watts Branch watershed encompasses multiple neighborhoods including Deanwood, Eastland Gardens, Kenilworth, Northeast Boundary, Mayfair, Parkside, and River Terrace. There is also a significant risk to dozens of public and community-serving facilities as well as affordable and public housing units." 

Several of the above neighborhoods are the site of in-progress mixed income redevelopments, and the watershed of the Watts Branch also reaches Joint Base Anacostia Bolling and an electrical substation, as well as the Blue Plains Wastewater Treatment Plant. While DC Water is constructing a seawall to protect Blue Plains beyond 500-year flood standards, it is unclear what is being done to protect endangered residential neighborhoods.

The Watts Branch watershed was identified as a resilience planning priority area in the 2016 Climate Ready DC report. The Environmental Protection Agency and jurisdictions traversed by the Watts Branch have studied flood risks there in recent years, as has the federal-local interagency group DC Silver Jackets; the Comp Plan states that Silver Jackets is currently testing mitigation strategies. 

The Comp Plan seems to identify the sewage overrun mitigation from the ongoing DC Clean Rivers Project and efforts to shore up five Anacostia tributaries, including Watts Branch, as part of the solution to address flood risks. A new Implementation Element section also encourages more "neighborhood-scale and site-specific solutions" within neighborhoods which lie in the watershed.

If neighborhoods along the Watts Branch are indeed at increased risk of flooding within the next few months — potentially before the Comp Plan amendments are voted into law — how will residents there be affected?

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/are-some-east-of-the-river-neighborhoods-at-higher-risk-of-flooding-next-ye/16034

DC Real Estate Guides

Short guides to navigating the DC-area real estate market

We've collected all our helpful guides for buying, selling and renting in and around Washington, DC in one place. Visit guides.urbanturf.com or start browsing below!

Northern Virginia

Profiles of 14 neighborhoods across Northern Virginia

Looking to Give People A Reason to Stay Past 6pm
Happily Straddling the Line Between City and Suburb
Columbia Pike
Arlington’s Neglected Stepchild is Getting a Makeover
Crystal City
Turning Lemons into Lemonade
Lyon Village
Developing An Air of Exclusivity?
Hitting Its Growth Spurt
An Urban Village Hitting Its Stride
Del Ray
Virginia’s Small Town Near the Big City
Eisenhower Avenue
The Vibrancy Might Take a Few Years
The Quiet Neighborhood By the Beltway
Old Town
Mayberry By The Potomac
132 Commerical-Free Acres
Downtown Falls Church
Staying the Same in the Midst of Change
Tysons Corner
Radical Change Could Be On The Way

See more Northern Virginia »


Profiles of 14 neighborhoods in suburban Maryland

Small-Town Living in the State Capital
Bedroom Community Gets Buzzing Cache
Cabin John
In With The New While Maintaining the Old
Chevy Chase
Affluence, Green Lawns and Pricey Homes
Downtown Silver Spring
Experiencing a Resurgence After a Bumpy History
A Suburb on Steroids
Rockville Town Square
Despite the Dynamism, Still Somewhat Generic
Takoma Park
More Than a Little Bit Quirky
A Foodie Magnet on the Verge of Change
Capitol Heights
Kudzu, Front Porches and Crime
Glass Half Full or Half Empty?
Mount Rainier
Artists, Affordable Homes and A Silo Full of Corn
National Harbor
A Development Rises Next to the Potomac
Riverdale Park
A Town Looking For Its Identity

See more Maryland »

Northwest DC

30+ neighborhood profiles for the city's biggest quadrant

16th Street Heights
DC's Sleeper Neighborhood
Where (Almost) Everyone Knows Your Name
AU Park
One of DC’s Last Frontiers Before the Suburbs
DC’s Northern Neighborhood on the Cusp
DC’s 535 House Neighborhood
Cathedral Heights
Do You Know Where That Is?
Chevy Chase DC
Not to Be Confused With the Other Chevy Chase
Cleveland Park
Coming Back After A Rough Year
Columbia Heights
DC’s Most Diverse Neighborhood, But For How Long?
An Island of Serenity East of the Park
Dupont Circle
The Best of DC (For a Price)
Foggy Bottom & West End
Where the Institutional Meets the International
Forest Hills
Ambassadors and Adventurous Architecture
Foxhall Village
350 Homes Just West of Georgetown
Friendship Heights
A Shopping Mecca With a Few Places to Live
History, Hoyas and H&M
Glover Park
One of DC’s Preppier and More Family-Friendly Neighborhoods
A Posh View From Embassy Row
LeDroit Park
A Quiet Enclave in the Middle of the City
Logan Circle
Trendy Now, But Not By Accident
Mount Pleasant
Sought-After Homes Surround Main Street in Transition
Mount Vernon Triangle
From Seedy to Sought-After
The Long, Skinny Neighborhood at the City’s Northwest Edge
Park View
It’s Not Petworth
Penn Quarter/Chinatown
DC’s Go-Go-Go Neighborhood
Getting a Vibrancy of Its Own
The Duke’s Former Stomping Ground
Shepherd Park
DC’s Garden of Diversity
Spring Valley
A Suburb With a DC Zip Code
Not To Be Confused With Takoma Park
Not Quite Like Its Neighbors
U Street Corridor
The Difference a Decade Makes
Woodley Park
Deceptively Residential
Adams Morgan
No Longer DC’s Hippest Neighborhood, But Still Loved by Residents

See more Northwest DC »

Southwest DC

The little quadrant that could

Southwest Waterfront
A Neighborhood Where A Change Is Gonna Come

See more Southwest DC »

Northeast DC

Profiles of 10 neighborhoods in NE

New Development Could Shake Up Pastoral Peace
A Little Bit of Country Just Inside the District’s Borders
Not to Be Confused With Bloomingdale
Fort Totten
Five Years Could Make a Big Difference
H Street
A Place To Party, and To Settle Down
The Northeast Neighborhood That Few Know About
Michigan Park
A Newsletter-On-Your-Doorstep Community
Evolving from a Brand to a Neighborhood
Ripe for Investment Right About Now
The Difference 5 Years Makes
Big Houses, A Dusty Commercial Strip and Potential

See more Northeast DC »

Southeast DC

6 neighborhoods from Capitol Hill to East of the River

Capitol Riverfront
Still Growing
Hill East
Capitol Hill’s Lesser Known Neighbor
Congress Heights
Gradually Rising
Notable for Its Neighborliness
Historic Anacostia
Future Promise Breeds Cautious Optimism
Eastern Market
A More European Way of Living

See more Southeast DC »