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District Awards Seven Community Organizations $1 Million in Bag Charges Revenue

WI Special Report | 7/27/2011, 7:03 a.m.

Nearly Half a Million More Allotted for Stream Restoration and In-Stream Trash Trap

The District Department of the Environment (DDOE) has awarded nearly $1 million in grants to community-based organizations and approximately $300,000 to private firms to assist in the restoration of the District's waterways, Mayor Vincent C. Gray and the District Department of Environment (DDOE) announced today.

Funds for the awards were made available from fees collected through the Anacostia River Clean Up and Protection Act of 2009, commonly known as the District's Bag Law. The projects will start at the end of the summer and will be implemented throughout the next two years.

An additional $450,000 allocated for stream restoration and an in-stream trash trap will be awarded later this year.

"I'm proud to say the Bag Law was implemented on my watch as Council Chairman, and I'm glad that it is proving to be not only a success in terms of discouraging bag use and littering, but also in terms of helping clean our waterways," Mayor Gray said.

"The District's Bag Law has been an unequivocal success," said Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells, the principal architect of the Bag Bill. "The use of disposable bags has dropped dramatically and the city is using the funds that are being generated in exactly the way they were intended - to clean up, restore and protect the Anacostia River."

"This is an all-around success for the District and the environment," added DDOE Director Christophe A.G. Tulou. "Not only are we putting the money to good use through preventative, restorative, educational, and enforcement projects, but we are seeing more and more consumers bringing their own reusable bags to stores."

Of District residents surveyed, 75 percent said they are using fewer disposable bags due to the Bag Law. DDOE intends to keep up that momentum through advertisements and free distribution of reusable grocery bags.

The Bag Law, which took effect on January 1, 2010, requires all businesses selling food or alcohol to charge customers $0.05 for each disposable paper or plastic carryout bag they use. The business keeps $0.01, and the remaining $0.04 is deposited into the Anacostia River Clean Up and Protection Fund.

The fund raised approximately $2.6 million through April 2011, according to DDOE. It will be used for restoration, education, and trash-retention projects in District's waterways as well as for outreach, implementation (including enforcement) and reusable-bag distribution.

The following table summarizes how the funds generated by the Bag Law will be used in Fiscal Year 2011:

Stormwater Retention, $484,000; Trash Education/Watershed Education, $251,000; Trash Capture, $339,000*; Stream Restoration, $650,000*; Outreach and Reusable-Bag Distribution,

$275,000; and Implementation (Project Management, Administration, & Enforcement), $550,000. With a total Projected Bag Law Expenditures for FY11** of $2,549,000

*Funds allotted, but not yet fully awarded

**Actual awards may vary pending final negotiation of scope and fees

The organizations that received funds are The Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, DC Greenworks, Casey Trees, Gold Leaf, the Alice Ferguson Foundation, the Anacostia Watershed Society and the Anacostia Riverkeeper.

For more information about the Bag Law, visit http://green.dc.gov/bags