Dust in the Anacostia?

Observing a possible oil spill from a helicopter doesn’t quite provide a perspective accurate enough to draw any reasonable conclusions.  We're out on the Anacostia River nearly every day and are very familiar with the way the river looks under many different conditions.  Let me share with you the observations that a few students and I made on Wednesday out on the Anacostia River in canoes. 

This is Jack (pictured above) looking at the water on the main stem of the Anacostia near Kenilworth Marsh.  You can see where his paddle stirred up the water.  Light brown mixing with dark brown, but after a few minutes Jack realized that the two types of water weren’t mixing at all.  “It’s like when you put milk in coffee, except that it never mixed up.”

The students also noticed that there were many different and separate colors to the water.  Light brown, funny neon blue, and dark black.  None of the different colors seemed to want to mix when you swirled them with your paddle. 

Normally after a rain event there is light brown water mixing with darker water.  The darker water is the clean and clear water where you can see your paddle down into the water a few feet.  The lighter color water is water that has suspended sediment particles in it and you can only see down six inches to one foot.  The lighter colored water seemed normal since it rained heavy on Sunday, but when we put our paddles into the dark water something was very different than normal.  In this dark water we could only see down less than an inch.


Again, lots of people are commenting and saying that it looks like pollen, or maybe it’s just normal dust/sediment run-off, but I would encourage everyone to take a closer look.


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