WASHINGTON — Three weeks after the Blizzard of 2016, towering piles of compacted ice and snow fester on roadsides and in parking lots throughout the metro area.
Most of these mini-monuments of the storm are dwarfed by the giant mountain range of snow and trash that was amassed outside RFK Stadium.
The District designated Parking Lot 7, on the east side of RFK Stadium, as a stockpile area during major snowstorms. In the days after last month’s blizzard, droves of trucks with the District’s Snow Team hauled an estimated 2,295 lane miles of snow off city streets and into the parking area.
The tallest peaks, blunted by warmer temperatures last week, are about 20 feet high. With temperatures expected to remain subfreezing through Presidents Day, little melting is expected. The horizontal expanse of the stockpile still spans nearly the width of the vast parking area.
The soot-tinged snowscape is mottled with garbage. Bottles, bags, books, chairs are among the most common forms of debris. A number of Christmas trees ended up here after being scooped up off the city’s curbs.
“You have to figure that the snow is picking up everything that is on the roadways, including gas an oil and every piece of litter,” says Julia Christian, spokeswoman for the District Department of Energy and Environment.
Christian says that there are several failsafes in place at RFK, including silt screen fences near catch basins, to ensure the trash and sentiment doesn’t end up in the nearby Anacostia River.
“Once everything started to melt and we started to see more pooling in the parking lot, we installed a containment boom in the actual river so that anything that did make it through those several layers of filtering would be captured and contained within one area of the river.”
Christian acknowledges that the piles of snow laced with trash aren’t pretty, but is confident that the city’s best management practices will keep the waterway and its natural inhabitants safe as runoff resumes later in the month.
“It looks terrible and it’s filled with some awful stuff, but we are actively monitoring it and have guys out there just about every day to check on the containment boom,” she says.
The season’s coldest temperatures are forecast this week. Many official estimate that the piles of snow will remain until at least spring.
“There’s going to be a significant amount of cleanup that’s going to have to happen in the RFK parking lot itself once all the snow is gone, but in terms of the direct impact on the river, we feel like we’ve got a pretty good handle on that at this point,” Christian says.