By Beth Hall
Since 2018, over 300 volunteers collected more than 1500 water quality samples from Washington, DC rivers and tributaries used for recreation.
Through this data collection, the DC Citizen Science Water Quality Monitoring program determined that, as in most urban watersheds, the presence of rainfall contributes to higher bacteria levels in DC surface waters. Stormwater and sewer overflow are vectors for pollution. In Southwest, however, weekly results for E. coli bacteria had a passing score a large majority of the time. Kingman Island, Anacostia Park, Buzzard Point, and the Washington Channel passed 75% of the time or more for single sample values. Bacteria levels were generally lower downstream than upstream. The Washington Channel at the Wharf received particularly good scores.
The program was made possible by a grant from the District Department of Energy and Environment, and was implemented by Anacostia Riverkeeper. Partner organizations were Alliance for the Chesapeake, Audubon Naturalist Society, Potomac Riverkeeper Network, and Rock Creek Conservancy. Monitoring took place weekly from May to September of each year, and the results are published in a report that can be found at the Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) Citizen Science Initiatives page.
Anacostia Riverkeeper and partner organizations will be hosting a webinar on February 22, 2022 to share the results of the report and answer questions. Free tickets will be available to the public through Eventbrite.
The report contains three recommendations. First, continue the development of capital improvement projects. Second, develop and implement more policies and programs for pollution investigations and bacteria source tracking and thirdly, produce a comprehensive “Recreation Plan” for DC surface waters.
To view the report, please visit https://doee.dc.gov/service/citizen-science-initiatives.