By Beth Hall
Last year was DC’s wettest year on record, with an observed rainfall of 66.28 inches. This negatively impacted water quality in the Anacostia River due to tremendous amounts of sediment, animal waste and organic material being dumped into the river. In spite of this, work done to improve the river has made a difference.
The Anacostia Watershed Society’s annual State of the River “Report Card” recently gave the river its second highest score since the report was first produced in 2011. There have been multiple projects that have helped, such as the DC Water tunnel which captured 5 billion gallons of combined sewage in the first year of operation as well as over 200 tons of trash and 600 tons of sediment. In addition, WSSC, Maryland’s water utility, is closing in on fixing their exposed and leaking sewer pipes. Also, 550 “super pooper” geese were removed from Anacostia Park over the last three years, and significant trash has been cleaned up due to strong policies, multiple cleanup efforts, outright bans on some materials and heightened awareness. One of the qualitative measures in the Report Card—trash removal—received a passing grade for the first time.
A watershed is an area of land that drains all the streams and rainfall to a common outlet such as a river, a reservoir or a bay. The Anacostia watershed covers 176 square miles of DC, Prince George’s County and Montgomery County in Maryland, and is home to over 1 million people.
The mission of the Anacostia Watershed Society is to protect and restore the Anacostia River and its watershed communities by cleaning the water, recovering the shores, and honoring the heritage. The vision is to make the Anacostia River and its tributaries swimmable and fishable, in keeping with the Clean Water Act, by 2025. Founded in 1989, the Society and its budget has seen rapid growth since 2000, thanks in large part to government and foundations.
The full Report Card is available at the Anacostia Watershed Society webpage at https://www.anacostiaws.org/what-we-do/public-policy-advocacy/state-of-the-river-report-card.html.