By Beth Hall

Updated weekly on Thursdays 9

Working together to understand the health of District of Columbia waters, the Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) awarded a grant to Anacostia Riverkeeper to implement a volunteer-based, citizen science water quality monitoring program with the goal of providing up-to-date, weekly water quality data to residents and visitors. This information can be used to make informed decisions about recreating in District waters.

Citizen Science Water Quality Monitoring volunteer Beth Hall; Courtesy of Melinda Cavichia

The program was established in 2018, and each summer, trained volunteers collect water samples from 22 specific sites in the Rock Creek, Potomac, and Anacostia watersheds. In our neighborhood, weekly sampling is done at Buzzard Point, Yards Park ​Marina, the recreation pier at the Wharf, and the Tidal Basin. All samples are analyzed in Anacostia Riverkeeper’s lab.  Parameters include pH levels, bacteria (E. coli), ​temperature, and turbidity. The results are made available to the public each Thursday through social media (@AnacostiaRrkper), the Anacostia Riverkeeper website, and online data portals. 

Thus far this summer, all four sites have passed. This continues a trend, beginning from a baseline in 2019,  of improvement in DC’s overall recreational water quality. The low bacteria results are especially important for DC’s goal of fishable and swimmable waters. 

This year, the Riverkeeper’s partners in this effort include the Audubon Naturalist Society and Rock Creek Conservancy. To learn more about this Citizen Science Water Quality Monitoring program, visit Questions can be directed to   

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