Anacostia Watershed Blog

Wonders on the Water: A Welcome

Whoosh! The flap of the cormorant’s wings lifted it away from the water. It didn’t seem too perturbed by its missed catch. It would have another shot. Twenty yards downriver a snowy white egret stood perfectly still, a lesson in elegance and poise. Red-eared sliders, true to their name, slid one-by-one from their sunning logs into the water at our approach. A bald eagle, barely visible from its great height, surveyed all below.

This is just a glimpse of my first trip out onto the Anacostia River and from this experience, I could tell the watershed and I would have a full year’s worth of adventures and stories to tell by the end of next August.

A cormorant's lunch

Lunch for a cormorant.

Work Plans for the Pepco Benning Road Cleanup

The current comment periods for the Pepco Benning Road Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study (RI/FS) work plans have been extended. All comments must now be submitted by September 28, 2012, to the District Department of the Environment (see details below).

These documents can be accessed on DDOE's website by clicking on the following links:
1. Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study (RI/FS) Work Plan
2. Sampling and Analysis Plan
3. Health and Safety Plan

The study area (highlighted in blue) for this investigation consists of the entire Pepco Benning Road property, totaling 77 acres, and a segment of the Anacostia River, approximately 12 acres. (This image was taken from the work plans prepared by AECOM.)

Community Advisory Group Gets Underway for Pepco Benning Road Cleanup

On August 16, 2012, Pepco and the District Department of the Environment (DDOE) convened the first meeting of the Community Advisory Group (CAG) as part of the cleanup of the Pepco Benning Road site. The CAG is composed of members of community organizations, civic associations, Advisory Neighborhood Commissions, and agency staff. The goal is to facilitate communication between Pepco and the community as important decisions are made regarding the cleanup process.

For an initial meeting the turnout of community members was disappointing -- hopefully this can be attributed to the mid-August date. But it appears from the list distributed that at least a few of the invited community groups had not designated a representation to serve on the CAG. The CAG members who were in attendance noted the low participation and pushed Pepco and DDOE to conduct additional vigorous outreach.

5 Good Nature Field Guides for your Smartphone

Smartphones can be extremely helpful when you are working in the field and you need to document with pictures, do some quick species ID or peek into your surrounding landscape with bird's-eye-view aerial imagery -- even for individuals like me, who at some point in our lives have been one of those cell phone rebels seemingly skeptical about the usefulness of all these cell phone technologies. Well, it turns out that now I'm an iPhone hog and my smartphone has really helped me at work and even in the field -- who knew!

There are a number of apps you can download for free or for very reasonable prices. Here are five I use regularly and I recommend to you:

The (Once) Edible Anacostia: Wild Rice

By Emily Haynes, Stewardship Intern

One of the most common species we plant in our wetland planting events is wild rice, and people often ask us if it’s edible. While unfortunately today the river is too polluted for us to eat anything that lives or grows in it, the Anacostia once supported much of the Nacotchtank Indians’ diet. 

Wild rice was a staple of this diet, growing along the riverbanks in the twisting wetlands that flanked the Anacostia before it was straightened and its wetlands replaced by levees, seawalls, and berms. In our work recreating these lost wetlands, we at AWS always make sure to plant plenty of wild rice, as it was once quite populous here. Wild rice is a grassy, aquatic plant distinguished by its narrow, light-green leaves that can sometimes grow up to seven feet tall. Look out at the river today and you’ll see it flowering, showing off its beautiful greenish-yellow flowers.

Pepco Benning Road - Community Advisory Group Meeting and Comment Period

View of the Pepco Benning Road power plant from the Anacostia River.

On August 16, 2012, the Community Advisory Group (CAG) for the District Department of the Environment (DDOE)/Pepco Benning Road Consent Decree will meet for the first time at the District of Columbia Department of Employment Services (4058 Minnesota Avenue NE, Washington, DC 20019) in the Community Room starting at 6:30 pm. The CAG consists of community organization members within the surrounding area of the Pepco facility and will serve as the voice for the public during the investigation process.

With the closure of the Pepco power plant (occupying 25% of the Benning Road facility) as of June 1, 2012, final approval of the Community Involvement Plan, and the Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study (RI/FS) proposed procedures ready for public comment, the CAG will meet to discuss the following:

Creatures from the River: Bryozoa

Yesterday, while out conducting routine water monitoring, our Water Quality Specialist Masaya Maeda found this blob in the water near Bladensburg Waterfront Park. Not as pretty as some of his other photos but it's still part of our river's ecosystem, and a nifty specimen at that.

It's a colony of Bryozoa, which is a group of organisms that has been around for approximately 5 million years! Most of these critters live in marine waters, but there is one class from the Bryozoan phylum that lives in freshwater: Phylactolaemata. The colonies form on submerged logs, branches, etc. and can be 2 to 7 feet in diameter.

How Climate Change Could Affect Your Dinner Plate

By Jason Martin, Stewardship Intern

When most people think about global warming or climate change they think of rising sea levels and temperatures. This gets people’s minds on better A/C units and selling beachfront properties but most don’t think about how rising temperatures could affect their dinner plate. Seventy percent of the commercially grown crops are pollinated by bees. Some crops such as tomatoes, squash, and blueberries depend on a specific species or group of bees to pollinate them. Any change in these relationships could have negative economic consequences for growers.

Natives Do it Better

By Jason Martin, Stewardship Intern

When most of us think about bees we think of a honey bee or bumblebee. While both of these bees are remarkable and important in their own way we also need to give credit to the other 3,998 species of bees in North America.

The honey bee is not native to the United States. It was imported here from Europe around 400 years ago by the first colonists. So, the honey bee, even though it does a great job of pollinating, hasn’t evolved with the native North American crops like the other 3,999 native species have. This co-evolution has led to numerous specialized relationships between native bees and native plants. Believe it or not there are some native plants in America that honey bees cannot or very inefficiently pollinate. Tomato, eggplant, squash, and blueberries are just a few crops that need native bees to pollinate them.

Stormwater Management and Climate Change

By Michael Schramm, Stewardship Intern

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) suggests that it is likely that a current 1-in-20-year annual maximum daily precipitation amount will become a 1-in-5 to a 1-in-15-year event by the end of the 21st century. The Mid-Atlantic region is anticipated to face less frequent but more intense precipitation events as a result of increased air temperatures, which in turn increase the amount of moisture in the atmosphere. We can expect longer dry periods, with more intense and extreme rainfall between those dry periods by the end of this century.



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