Seven leading environmental and business groups in the district have announced the formation of United for a Healthy Anacostia River, a new coalition that will work to educate key audiences about the toxins in the bottom sediments of the Anacostia River.
The Anacostia River consistently ranks as one of the most polluted and toxic rivers in the nation. Toxins found in the river have long been associated with increased risks of developmental disruption, neurobehavioral deficits, and cancer.
“The area around the Anacostia River in DC and Maryland is on its way to becoming a huge cultural, social, and economic resource for the region,” said Doug Siglin, who serves as chair of the coalition and has more than three decades of experience with clean water issues regionally, nationally, and internationally. “But it cannot reach its potential as long as dangerous chemicals in the riverbed and at certain places along the bank remain un-addressed. The members of United for a Healthy Anacostia River are joining together to be vocal champions for a comprehensive clean up effort. The longer we wait, the longer we postpone the benefits of the Anacostia River and ignore a potential threat to the health of our community.”
Currently, the coalition is in the process of reviewing the Anacostia River Sediment Project Remedial Investigation Work Plan, which was released by the District Department of the Environment (DDOE) on January 30th. The work plan lays out a framework to guide future clean-up of toxins from the bottom sediments of the Anacostia River. According to Siglin, the work plan provides a critical first step to cleaning up the river.
“This is a much-needed starting point for a city-wide conversation about the enormous benefits of cleaning up the Anacostia. It is also an essential step in meeting the coalition’s goal of initiating comprehensive clean-up efforts by January 2017 – midway through the next mayor’s term.”
According to Dennis Chestnut, Director of Groundwork Anacostia DC and member of the coalition’s steering committee, there is no better time to get this process started.
“Washington, DC is experiencing tremendous residential, business, and economic growth. Housing development is at an all time high and DC is leading the nation in many innovative categories. These accomplishments are very commendable. But, if there is not the will to restore the health of our most valuable natural resource, we will have squandered a major economic opportunity and failed the existing and future residents of our wonderful city.”
In addition to reviewing the DDOE work plan, the coalition is planning on having a robust digital and social media campaign aimed at educating key audiences about the state of the river and encouraging them to be advocates for cleaning it up. Already the coalition has launched a Change.org petition addressed to Mayor Gray and members of the DC Council, asking them to “make a commitment to fully cleaning up the toxic chemicals found in and around the Anacostia … [and] pledge to have the toxic cleanup underway by January 2017 – three years from now.”
For more information about the coalition, residents are asked to visit the website: www.healthyanacostiariver.org
By: United for a Healthy Anacostia River coalition