Friday, March 7, 2014

Post Oil City Closing Workshop: Water & Food Security

By Arielle Gerstein

On Friday, Feb. 28, CAUSES held the closing panel discussion accompanying the Post-Oil City exhibit on water and food security. Featured panelists included: George S. Hawkins, General Manager, DC Water and Sewer Authority; Brendan Shane, Director of the Office of Policy and Sustainability at the District Department of the Environment, District Department of the Environment; Dr. Jill Auburn, National Program Leader, Division of Agricultural Systems, Institute of Food Production & Sustainability, USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA); and Dr. Thomas Schmidt, Minister Counselor, Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection, Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany.
Each panelist presented on topics including the DC Sustainability Plan, the importance of clean and accessible water, farming in urban areas, hydroponics and aquaponics. According to Shane and Hawkins, preparing for extreme weather events such as extreme cold or heat significantly affects urban planning because negative occurrences such as freezing pipes and flooding must be mitigated.  

Hawkins also described the challenges in delivering clean water to the District where most of the water pipe infrastructure is outdated and the need for regional effort to minimize pollution. The District must work with regional partners to reduce pollution runoff into DC's water supply. 

 “Water is the most significant thing in any place,” stated Hawkins. 
Dr. Auburn discussed America’s shift away from farming and the need to introduce more citizens to small-scale, urban farming, as has proved successful in many cities across the nation, including D.C. 

Dr. Schmidt described the history of small-scale farming in Germany, describing the “Kleingarten” or small garden movement. He also explained how the District can learn from Germany because the European country has been a proponent of urban agriculture and small gardens for a long time.

Additional audience discussion centered around: the measurement of DC Sustainability goals, urban tax payers and green roofs. A large portion of the audience was comprised of architecture students from the visiting HBCU Forum and included Morgan State, Prairie View and Howard Universities. The workshop provided these students with relevant knowledge about how important environmental considerations are in design.    

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