Updates for Anacostia River Sediment Project: Plans Finalized, Field Activities Begin, and a New Deadline

Final Anacostia River Sediment Project boundary map. Click image for larger view.
Provided by Tetra Tech in Final Remedial Investigation Work Plan.

This summer has kicked off with lots of great things happening. Progress for the Anacostia River Sediment Project, led by the District Department of the Environment (DDOE), is one of them with full steam ahead. Several weeks ago DDOE released the Final Work Plan and an updated Community Involvement Plan, went live with the online Administrative Record which contains all documentation used for the project, and hosted its first community meeting for the project (click for DDOE's power point presentation and meeting minutes). The Final Sampling and Analysis Plan (SAP), Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP), and Health and Safety Plan (HASP) were released last week and are available through the administrative record file for the project.

In order to efficiently and effectively carryout the processes needed for such an investigation, DDOE has assembled a team of experts. Much of the work is contracted to Tetra Tech, a worldwide company that brings decades of experience in providing environmental services. A technical advisory committee has also been assembled by DDOE to provide expertise and information related to the Anacostia River. This group consists of Anacostia River experts from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – Region 3, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) – Chesapeake Bay Field Office, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and Drexel University.

Map showing two staging areas: Primary near the Anacostia Community Boathouse off of M St SE, Secondary at Kenilworth Park near Deane Ave NE. Click image for larger view. Image provided by DDOE in June 17, 2014 public meeting presentation.

Project staging areas for sampling activities along the river (see pink dots on map above) will have signage displayed on the entrance gates and office trailers; boats used for sampling will also have signs for identification purposes. Field sampling activities are scheduled to start anytime now assuming all required permits have been obtained. Here is a quick list of the quantities of each type of sample that will be taken (see Section 5 of the Work Plan for more details*):

  • 134 surface sediment (0 – 0.5 ft)
  • 243 subsurface sediment (up to 10 ft initially*)
  • 19 surface sediment pore water
  • 14 surface water
  • 42 invertebrate
  • 46 locations for fish – three types at each where possible: forage fish, mid-level predator, and top predator
  • up to 6 common snapping turtles

DDOE is considering holding a press event once sampling activities are underway, most likely toward the end of this month. Completion of all sampling is expected in 3 or 4 months (before winter) with a public meeting to follow.

Some additional fantastic news surrounding this project is that on June 24 and again today after the Mayor's veto last Friday, as part of the FY2015 Budget Support Act, the DC Council passed the Anacostia River Toxics Remediation Act of 2014! This requires DDOE to adopt and publish a Record of Decision (ROD) for the Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study for the Sediment Project by June 2018. We and our fellow United for a Healthy Anacostia River (UHAR) coalition members firmly advocated for a deadline to be set because the ROD determines what needs to be done to clean up the toxic pollution as well as how much it will cost. It is of great importance that this deadline be established because as we have seen in the past where such deadlines were not set or where the responsible parties were not held accountable for completing the work by a deadline, the cleanup processes have dragged out for decades, wasting precious time and resources. We all deserve a fishable and swimmable Anacostia River where we can go and enjoy what the river has to offer without fear of serious health implications – this will be a giant step in that direction.

July 7, 2014 - Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh receives plaque from members of UHAR for her commitment to a healthy Anacostia River and more specifically her efforts on establishing a deadline of June 2018 for the Sediment Project ROD. From left to right: Former DC Mayor Anthony Williams, Doug Siglin (Federal City Council), DC Councilmember Mary Cheh, Mike Bolinder (Anacostia Riverkeeper), Dan Smith (Anacostia Watershed Society). Photo credit: Kelly Whittier, Community Outreach Director & Scheduler for Councilmember Cheh.

Help keep this project on track for a swimmable and fishable Anacostia River by staying informed (check out this blog post for more background information) and signing this new petition addressed to the DC Mayor and Councilmembers to ensure responsible parties are held accountable for their share of the cleanup costs.



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