Historic DC Cemetery Doubles as Pollution-Absorbing Sponge

Mt. Olivet Cemetery, DC
橄榄山公墓占地85英亩,是华盛顿特区最古老、最大的天主教公墓。这也是首都第一个种族融合的城市。(照片:蒂姆埃文斯/flickr)

North American cemeteries named after Mount Olivet — the Mount of Olives, an ancient and revered hill flanking East Jerusalem — are innumerable.

马里兰州弗雷德里克的橄榄山公墓是弗朗西斯·斯科特·基最后的安息地。芝加哥橄榄山著名的墓葬包括凯瑟琳·奥利里夫人(但不是她那头臭名昭著的母牛)和在20世纪40年代末短暂的阿尔·卡彭。底特律的奥利弗山公墓是该市最大的公墓,而纳什维尔的公墓,被列入国家历史名胜名录,是著名的、远去的田纳西人中的名人。

然而,这些公墓或其他无数公墓都没有华盛顿特区那样的历史分量Mount Olivet Cemetery, one of the first racially integrated burial grounds in the city. Spread out over 85 tranquil acres, Mount Olivet was established in 1858 as a capital-area riff onMount Auburn Cemetery, the influential cemetery-附有-arboretum outside of Boston that was the first cemetery in America to more closely resemble an immaculately landscaped park than a dour church-adjacent graveyard. Championing outdoor recreation and inclusionary interments from the get-go, Mount Olivet is home to an eclectic mix of eternal residents: ambassadors, justices, senators, postmasters general and Lincoln assassination conspirators.

然而,奥利维特山最能改变游戏规则的时刻可能正在发生:一项由科学推动的、首创的环境倡议,旨在控制席卷切萨皮克湾的污染量。

By revamping sections of the 85-acre property to better absorb polluted rainwater that would otherwise flow from its paved roads and walkways into a nearby tributary of the Anacostia River and, eventually, the bay, this ambitious — but non-disruptive — green infrastructure project essentially transforms Mount Olivet Cemetery into a sponge. And a sacred sponge at that.

为自然保护协会主导的事业增添了一个有些出乎意料的层面,那就是罗马天主教华盛顿大教区拥有并维护了这座有160年历史的墓地,并一直密切参与项目的构思和实施。这标志着保护协会首次与天主教会合作。这也可能标志着第一次有一个有头有脸的人——在这次活动中,华盛顿特区大主教唐纳德·沃尔枢机主教——为城市雨水保留项目祈福。(该项目得到了来自以下出版物的热烈报道:雨水解决方案to the天主教标准.)

"Our cemeteries are considered sacred ground because it is here that we bury our dead in the hope of the resurrection,"said Cardinal Wuerl at a May 7 dedication ceremony. "但墓地也为生者服务。我们特别照顾这些场地,以便前来探望、缅怀和为死者祈祷的人在美丽、和平、宁静的环境中这样做。”

At the dedication, Wuerl praised the project as an "an actual, practical example" of Pope Francis' environmental encyclical being carried out. He then sprinkled a pollutant-absorbing rain garden with holy water.

Swapping grey for green

Perched on a hillside in Northeast D.C.'s Ivy City neighborhood opposite the National Arboretum and, beyond that, the Anacostia River, Mount Olivet Cemetery — D.C.'s oldest and largest Catholic cemetery — is as peaceful and bucolic as a major urban cemetery can get.

But this doesn't mean the cemetery isallwide expanses of grass, trees and park-like features. Roughly 10 acres of impervious surfaces can be found throughout the cemetery including the aforementioned network of winding paved roads and walkways that lace the cemetery grounds.

During heavy rain events, stormwater cascades down these problematic asphalt surfaces — collecting accumulated pollutants, bacteria, litter and assorted gunk as it goes — and straight into Hickory Run, a tributary of the Anacostia. Although notoriously polluted, the river iscurrently on the reboundthanks to extensive clean-up and pollution control efforts.

Three billion gallons of storm runoff and raw sewage enter rivers in and around the nation's capital every year. Per the conservancy, this is the fastest growing source of water pollution not just in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed —covering 64,000 square miles, it's the largest watershed on North America's Atlantic seaboard — but in freshwater bodies worldwide.

And so, with the aid of the Nature Conservancy, a slice of Mount Olivet Cemetery's "grey" infrastructure has been turned green. Infrequently used access roads were narrowed or replaced altogether with grass, trees, flower beds, rain gardens and bio-retention cells specifically designed to capture and filter polluted runoff. In addition to slowing and scrubbing stormwater before it enters local waterways, the addition of these natural features provide much-needed new habitat to urban wildlife.

Writes Nature Conservancy Natural Conservancy president and CEO Mark Tercek in ablog postprofiling the singular project:

These innovations do it all: capture the stormwater, slow down runoff, clean it up, cool it down, and slowly release it back into the river over time, mimicking natural processes. The result is cleaner rivers all around us. What's more, green infrastructure typically costs less than gray infrastructure and provides a host of immediate co-benefits for free, like greening a neighborhood, reducing urban heat islands, cleaning the air, restoring nutrients to the soil, and creating local green jobs.

As reported by the海湾日记账,该项目的第一阶段,到目前为止涉及减少18000平方英尺的不透水表面内的墓地,可以容纳多达1.7英寸的雨水在24小时内。

A forever fix at a place of eternal rest

The Nature Conservancy is also working alongside the archdiocese to create a stormwater-filtering commemorative garden that honors enslaved Americans who were interred at Mount Olivet Cemetery. "The garden's design will provide reflective spaces for people and habitat for pollinators, using the power of nature to connect people with history," writes Tercek. "The garden will also host community educational events to share the story of those who were enslaved, disenfranchised, and denied the opportunity to have grave markers."

And as discordant as taking on such an ambitious project in such a hallowed place may have potentially been, the project moved forward with minimal disruption.

”,因为它是在一个墓地,我们也想make sure that none of the burial sites were disturbed," Chieko Noguchi, a spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Washington, explains to下一个城市。“而且,对我们来说,任何一项建筑工程都要围绕着已经安排好的墓葬进行,这一点也非常重要,我们不希望妨碍任何人来墓地探望他们的亲人。”

下个城市所指出的那样,橄榄山是一个“日落" cemetery, which means it is nearing full capacity and will soon halt new interments. While this could spell bad news for future generations who might want to secure a spot in the historic burial grounds, it's good news from a conservation standpoint, particularly as it pertains to the reduction of impervious surfaces. Essentially, this means that no part of the cemetery could potentially be sold to developers who, in turn, might turn the verdant landscape into, for example, a parking lot. The whole property is sanctified, off-limits forever and always.

“我们知道,无论我们在那里做什么,都将在那里持续很长时间,并将为我们在华盛顿的河流带来巨大的利益,”自然保护署城市保护主任卡利尔·凯特林告诉《下一个城市》。

Road at Mt. Olivet Cemetery, DC
Impervious surfaces are inevitable at cemeteries. At Mount Olivet in Northeast D.C., redundant roads are giving way to grass, trees and pollutant-absorbing rain gardens. (摄影:蒂姆·埃文森/弗利克)

Runoff, runoff go away

It's true that the Archdiocese of Washington — largely motivated by the Pope's resounding call to honor and protect the natural world — embarked on the project at Mount Olivet Cemetery to help make imperiled waterways in the D.C. area cleaner and greener.

It's not just all for the good of Mother Nature, however.

雨水保留计划也是financially advantageous to the Catholic Church — the archdiocese can now reduce its annual runoff bills simply because there are fewer impervious surfaces. In 2017, that bill ran $140,000. In 2018, the fee rose to $25.18 charged for every 1,000 square feet of impervious surface area according to the Bay Journal.

“我们在想,‘我们怎么做才能对环境和水费有利呢?’奥利弗山和圣玛丽公墓的经理谢丽尔·吉德利·蒂伊斯卡告诉《海湾日报》有人把我们和自然保护协会联系起来了。”

The runoff fees, administered by the D.C.能源与环境部(DOEE) and collected to help fund federally mandated clean-up projects in the Potomac and Anacostia rivers, have proven to be a difficult pill for cemeteries and other faith-based institutions to swallow.

"We're maintaining all this beautiful green space, and there's this blind-eyed approach to the impervious area charge," laments John Spalding, president of the Catholic Cemeteries of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., to the Bay Journal. "It's not like we're a developer that has all this revenue coming in. This is all on donations."

As the Washington Post has reported, Rock Creek Cemetery, the oldest burial ground in all of D.C., has also found itself in a financial bind. The cemetery's 2016 water bill reached nearly $200,000, a dramatic jump from the $3,500 fee imposed in 2008.

"It's really dire," Cecily Thorne, director of operations at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Rock Creek Parish, told the Post. "We're at a breaking point. We want our city to have clean water, but we want to see it done in a way that's equitable."

安那考斯迪亚河
Once deemed polluted beyond repair, the Anacostia River has experienced a rebound in recent years. Still, pollutants carried into the river by urban runoff remains an issue. (摄影:蒂姆·埃文森/弗利克)

Good karma, even better credit

虽然雨水花园和其他新的绿色基础设施不会导致奥利弗山公墓的年度径流费大幅下降,但大主教管区目前的收益率只有4%左右。

该项目还使公墓能够通过能源部的雨水保留信贷(SRC)计划产生信贷,其中一部分可以作为新的收入来源出售。正是这一收入来源——而不是从大主教金库里拿走的钱——将为奥利弗山的绿色基础设施改革买单。《海湾日报》解释了创新计划的具体运作方式,以及大教区将如何从中受益:

Stormwater regulations in the District require developers to either retain a certain amount of runoff on-site or purchase pollution-reduction credits from projects that absorb more than their share of stormwater elsewhere. [In this case, Mount Olivet Cemetery]. That gives developers flexibility in meeting their stormwater control requirements, and it allows for the private financing of water quality projects in less affluent pockets of the city, such as those near the Anacostia. In 2016, the conservation investing arm of the Conservancy partnered with an asset management firm to form District Stormwater LLC to finance projects that reduce stormwater runoff and generate credits for the trading program. An initial $1.7-million investment came from Prudential Financial, all of which will be used on work at Mount Olivet.

自然保护协会的凯特林称赞SRC市场“很好,因为它提供了一个机会,可以引入新的资金来源来进行保护项目,也表明你可以利用私人股本(为)保护成果融资”。他告诉《下一个城市》杂志说:“这是一种新的方式,可以让不同的伙伴参与进来。”。

展望未来,人们希望其他公墓,不管是否是天主教公墓,都能追随华盛顿大主教区的脚步。毕竟,橄榄山的项目是一个高度可复制的项目。

As Spalding relays to the Bay Journal, his previous approach to cemetery upkeep was centered mostly on buildings and gravestones, not necessarily redundant paved surfaces. But since teaming with the Nature Conservancy, his view has broadened.

"We have to keep up these buildings. But we see the lands as part of that mission, too, now that we're more informed about the impact that we were having with stormwater runoff," he says. "We all have the same mindset — that we want to be good stewards of our properties."