With grants from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Potomac Riverboat Company replaced old diesel engines on several of its boats, which make a trip between Mount Vernon and DC and Old Town Alexandria, reducing emissions into the Potomac River and cutting fuel costs in the process.
The Council of Governments applied for and received a grant from the EPA in 2011. Along with the Passenger Vessel Association the Council worked with the Potomac Riverboat Company, based in Old Town Alexandria, to replace older diesel engines on two vessels.
The engines are now operational on the Old Town-Georgetown route on the Potomac river.
Jeff King, principal environmental planner at the Council of Governments, first came up with the idea to use grant money to replace the diesel engines in local riverboats when he saw one of the Potomac Riverboat Company’s boats leaving a dock in Georgetown. He reached out to the company and the rest is history.
“As an elected official in the City of Alexandria and a longstanding supporter of environmental protection, I was particularly pleased to see the Council of Governments partnering with a local small business to help make it more sustainable,” said Del Pepper, Alexandria City Councilwoman, in a prepared statement. “The Potomac is a major environmental and economic asset to this region and cleaning up our air and water will help it ensure it’s viable for generations to come.”
The Council later worked with the District government to use additional funding to replace engines in vessels belonging to the Spirit of Mount Vernon, which operates a route between D.C. and George Washington’s historic Mount Vernon estate.
“Now the 80,000-100,000 kids that the Spirit carries from the District to George Washington’s Mount Vernon are enjoying a trip with a much smaller carbon footprint and less exposure to harmful diesel exhaust,” Cecily Beall, air director for the D.C. Department of the Environment, said, according to a post on the Council's blog.
According to a post on the Council's blog, in addition to environmental benefits, there are economic benefits for the company:
"In addition to the obvious benefits to human health, the environment and climate associated with reduced emissions, the boat operators experienced several economic advantages from the engine replacements, including savings on fuel, lower cleaning and maintenance costs, and more efficient operation."