A new study shows that Washington DC’s Bag Law is working for both consumers and businesses. That’s the conclusion of a study commissioned by the District Department of the Environment (DDOE) that surveyed residents and businesses to measure the impact of the law that was implemented four years ago to reduce plastic bag litter, especially in streams and the Anacostia and Potomac Rivers. Across the District there has been a significant reduction in disposable bag use: businesses have reduced their use of bags by 50% on average, and four in five DC residents now carry reusable bags when shopping, with 58% stating that they carry them “most of the time” or “always.”
Of the 600 randomly surveyed DC residents –
Anacostia River seen from Bladensburg Waterfront Park.
During Earth Month AWS released the second annual State of the Anacostia River report card. The river received an overall water quality score of C- based on the parameters we assessed. But what does that really mean?
Our annual Earth Day Cleanup & Celebration event is less than 2½ weeks away! Please join us this year in honoring Earth Day on April 21 by helping clean up the watershed. Most cleanup activities run from 9 am to noon; for specific locations (nearly 40 total!) and times, please visit our Earth Day Google Map. Following the cleanup will be a celebration (part of The Nature Conservancy’s Picnic for the Planet) at RFK Stadium parking lot #6 from noon to 2 pm featuring live music, guest speakers, exhibits, organizational tables, and free food and drinks prepared by Seafarer’s Yacht Club. For more details please visit our Earth Day webpage.
AWS' volunteering and stewardship programs welcomed the new year on a beautiful, unseasonably warm Thursday this past week! Membership and Volunteer Coordinator (Maddie) and VolunteerMaryland Coordinator (Heather) worked with a group of volunteers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture at Riverside Neighborhood Park near Riverdale Park and Edmonston, MD.
Twenty-five volunteers worked hard to remove trash and non-native plants from the park and small surrounding stream, located right along the Northeast Branch of the Anacostia River. Nearby is also the Northeast Branch Trail, which can take you all the way from Beltsville to Bladensburg and beyond!
(Volunteer in action)
Aquarium Conservation Team staff at Bladensburg Waterfront Park (above) and visiting the Nash Run Trash Trap (below).
On Monday, my fellow Chesapeake Conservation Corps Volunteer Laura Cattell brought her Conservation Team at the National Aquarium in Baltimore down for a visit. We had the pleasure of introducing them to our watershed, engaging them in some cleanup work and sharing trade secrets.
As we always do, we highlighted the historic quality of the Anacostia River -- how much life in the early colonial period of this area depended on the river -- as well as showing our organization's approach to the challenges we face today. Our guests were amazed when Eric mentioned that prior to agricultural development and unsustainable settlement, Bladensburg was a bigger port than Baltimore!
The Anacostia River is so severely impacted by trash that in 2007 it was declared impaired by trash under the provisions of the Clean Water Act. Only the second river in the country to be so designated, and the first multi-jurisdictional river (Maryland and DC), in 2010 a trash TMDL, or pollution diet, was issued that requires Anacostia jurisdictions to reduce the amount of trash entering the river.
At the end of 2008 AWS released a scientific study of trash in the Anacostia River. One of the key findings of this study was that 33% of the trash in the tidal river was plastic bags, while nearly 50% of the trash in tributary streams was plastic bags.
Disclaimer: the ideas presented here are the water quality specialist’s personal view and is not AWS’s view on the definition of a swimmable Anacostia River.
When I joined the Anacostia Watershed Society (AWS) in 2002, I started to be involved in a project called Flagging Project. In the project I took samples every business day from June through October in 2002 and 2003, measured the water for various parameters including Fecal Coliform Bacteria. Since it takes about 24 hours to analyze water for fecal bacteria, I forecasted the fecal bacteria testing results based on accumulated data, rainfall precipitation, conductivity, etc. The forecast was made if the fecal bacteria level will meet a boating standard or not.
It was only a matter of time before industry flexed its financial muscle to defend their polluting plastic bags. Yesterday bag bill opponents swamped the Maryland House of Delegates with computerized "patch through" calls that connect constituents directly to their legislators. This is likely funded by industry so who knows what they are telling constituents before they connect them with legislators. Last year the American Chemistry Council (plastics lobbying group) and manufacturer Hilex spent an estimated $2 Million to defeat the California bag bill. Now someone is waving money around Maryland to defeat a public policy that we have seen work well in DC.
They should be catching fish, not plastic bags!
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