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Water: Low Impact Development

Stormwater Management at EPA Headquarters

Six 1,000-Gallon Cisterns Installed at EPA West Building

The Ariel Rios South Building Courtyard project is part of a larger effort to beautify the EPA Headquarters complex and also demonstrate more environmentally sound building and landscaping techniques. The Facilities Management and Services Division in the Office of Administration and Resources Management, the Office of Water and the General Services Administration have been working on a plan to exhibit stormwater management techniques, sustainable design and low impact development (LID) at the Federal Triangle complex. We hope that this plan will serve as a model for the federal community and will demonstrate many of the practices that can be employed to mitigate the effects of stormwater runoff and reduce combined sewer overflows into our rivers, streams and coastal waters. It will also demonstrate that sustainable design and LID can be utilized in high profile, urban sites that must pass through rigorous aesthetic design reviews. Some of the techniques that we are demonstrating include: cistern-pavers

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Click for PDF version of large map of Federal Triangle Complex


Click for PDF version of larger view of Ariel Rios South Courtyard


Click for PDF version of larger view of Constitution Avenue diagram


Click for PDF version of larger view of West Building Parking Garage Cisterns

Demonstration Project Details

EPA Headquarters is located as part of the larger Federal Triangle Complex (PDF) (1 pg, 100K, About PDF) in downtown Washington. The demonstration project involves three sites:

Ariel Rios South Courtyard

At the Federal Triangle Complex's eastern end, the Ariel Rios South Courtyard (PDF) (1 pg, 135K, About PDF) features two biofilters (often called rain gardens) and permeable concrete and permeable pavers, which allow stormwater to filter into the ground rather than wash off the surface and into storm drains and combined sewers. In addition, the South Courtyard has a cistern to recycle stormwater for irrigation. Sustainable planting is also included in the courtyard landscape. Plants take up stormwater and provide valuable wildlife habitat. Other sustainable best management practices include reuse of an historic granite curb as a bench, recycled farm tool plant signs, and recycled glass in the cistern cover and artwork.

Constitution Avenue


The south end of the Federal Triangle Complex is bordered by Constitution Avenue, 12th Street, and 14th Street. Four additional rain gardens are located here (PDF) (1 pg, 135K, About PDF).

West Building Parking Garage
Stormwater runoff is being diverted from approximately 10,000 square feet of roofing on top the EPA West building roof into six 1000 gallon cisterns located in the below-grade parking garage (PDF) (1 pg, 45K, About PDF) at 14th Street and Constitution Avenue. The cisterns are outfitted with real-time controls to more effectively manage stormwater retention and use.  Volume measurements into and out of the system and forecasted precipitation is fed into an automated web-based program (see image of dashboard) to control the system.  With this system, water in the cisterns can be discharged before a storm event to free up cistern capacity to capture future runoff.

Read a copy of the sign posted next to the cisterns (PDF) (1 pg, 45K, About PDF) in the basement of EPA West.


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Awards for Demonstration Project

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More Information

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Project Partners

This demonstration project is a collaborative effort involving EPA´s Office of Water, the Facilities Management Division of EPA´s Office of Administration and Resources Management, and the General Services Administration. Other partners joined as this project evolved, including the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, the National Capital Planning Commission, the DC Water and Sewer Authority, and a variety of contractors.

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Viewing the Demonstration Project

If you are interested in more information on the demonstration project or a tour, please contact LIDHQ@epa.gov.

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