For most people, stormy weather represents an inconvenience that ruins day plans and leaves clothes wet and soggy. However, stormwater runoff has much more destructive effects, not always readily visible. D.C. streets are filled with deadly toxins, including oils, antifreeze, and pesticides, regularly left behind as industrial waste. Stormwater pools these toxins and leads them into nearby waterways, including the Potomac River watershed, which serves my GW college campus. Here the effects become much more visible.
Those who drink contaminated water are more susceptible to waterborne diseases that put hundreds of thousands of people in hospitals each year. More than half of waterborne disease outbreaks have followed extreme rainfalls. Think about that the next time you drink a glass of tap water. Sustainable development can help contain stormwater runoff.
GW’s Square 80 Plaza has done just that. The site has several features, including biofiltration planters, which help capture 100 percent of trespassing stormwater. Unfortunately, not enough places like Square 80 exist. D.C. stormwater runoff levels have risen 34 percent over the last 30 years. Disturbing, huh? How can we expect to drink from safer water when we continue to feed our watersheds with deadly toxins? Let’s push harder to reverse this trend.
Eric Osman is a senior at The George Washington University majoring in Journalism and Mass Communication with a minor in Economics.