The District of Columbia Silver Jackets is an interagency flood risk management team, led by the Army Corps, National Park Service and the District Department of Energy and Environment. It’s a unique team that leverages resources to identify and implement comprehensive and sustainable solutions to reduce flood risks around the District. The team’s priorities include flood inundation mapping and stream gauges; flood emergency planning; interior drainage flooding; levee certification and accreditation; and communication.
For instance, the team created a Flood Inundation Mapping tool, which consists of real-time digital maps housed on the National Weather Service’s web site that display the potential depth and extent of flooding from the Potomac and Anacostia rivers based on impending storms.
The team is also conducting a flood risk management study for vulnerable neighborhoods along Watts Branch. The first part of the study entails modeling the potential flood threat, and the second part entails outlining potential flood risk management options.
The Corps has lead similar studies for the Washington Navy Yard and Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling.
The DC Silver Jackets stress that it is imperative for the public to know their flood risk and take appropriate actions to reduce this risk. Even with projects in place and studies underway, the District is still extremely susceptible to interior flooding caused by storm drains becoming overwhelmed from heavy local rainfall, and there is a large transient population that may not be aware of the flood risks.
The 17th Street closure structure is part of the Potomac Park Levee System. It is situated between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument, and it reduces risk to human safety and critical infrastructure in downtown District of Columbia from flooding of the Potomac River. The levee system and closure was constructed and is regulated by the Corps of Engineers, and operated and maintained by the National Park Service. Construction of the closure was completed in 2014. The 17th Street closure is a removable structure that can be erected in the event of high water to attach to the floodwalls on both sides of 17th Street and consists of aluminum panels between steel posts.
The Army Corps and other federal partners have been meeting to come up with a plan to address the threat of interior flooding in the Federal Triangle area, and the National Park Service is investigating the use of temporary barriers to be deployed prior to a strong storm to add an extra layer of flood risk management for the District.