Six local environmental groups including the Anacostia Watershed Society, Anacostia Watershed Citizens Advisory Committee, Anacostia Riverkeeper, DC Environmental Network, Groundwork Anacostia River and the Sierra Club Environmental Justice program are organizing a press conference on Tuesday, September 7th at 12:00 noon to call attention to the lack of action on the clean-up of known toxic sites along the Anacostia River. While the District and federal agencies debate details and jurisdictions, causing years long delays, the toxics wait for no one and continue to leech into our environment.
By Jim Foster, AWS President
Today is the 196th anniversary of the Battle of Bladensburg! Our George Washington House is “Ground Zero” for the Battle that saw a swift overrun of American defenders and the burning of the White House and Capitol six hours later. The MD State Highway Administration recently completed archeological excavations in and around Bladensburg including at the GW House in our parking lot. (see first link below for additional information and photos on their findings)
Last Tuesday we had a lot of fun in the woods of Fort Dupont with a group of eight enthusiastic volunteers from The JBG Companies, one of the Washington metropolitan area's main real estate companies. The company was honoring its 50th anniversary with a day of volunteer service and its employees were lending a helping hand to a number of charitable and environmental hands-on projects throughout the region.
Those volunteering with AWS were up against some of the toughest invasive woody plants at the park, including a 10 feet Norway maple, 22 mature bush honeysuckles and 7 white mulberries, among other species.
As if last week's storm wasn't enough, the DC area was hit yet again with another heavy rain today with the possibility of more still on the horizon. While the rain is surely a welcome break from those hot summer temperatures, it can have some serious effects on the environment and the Anacostia River. The high amount of impervious surfaces like roads and parking lots in the highly developed Anacostia region leads to excessive runoff during even small rain events. Large rain events like today's and last Thursday's produce even more drastic effects, resulting in high water, flooding, excessive streambank erosion, loss of trees and the dumping of tons of trash and pollutants directly into the river. Below is a video highlighting photos and footage from the storms on August 12 & 18, 2010. What you will see is evidence of a "sick river" because this is not normal.
Residents across the DC area awoke to a fierce thunderstorm early Thursday morning that, despite its short duration, left nearly 60,000 Pepco customers without power, caused some flash flooding and brought massive amounts of trash and storm debris down the Anacostia River.
AWS's Director of Advocacy Brent Bolin and Director of Education Programs Lee Cain went out to the Bladensburg Waterfront Park to document the storm's effect on the river. Lots of trash had washed up all along the shoreline. While they were standing there, they watched a giant tree float by followed by an enormous mass of trash and storm debris. They tracked it upstream and believe a hiker/biker bridge over the Northwest Branch was preventing the trash from passing through when the water level rose. Once the level dropped back down, the trash was released and made its way downstream to Bladensburg where they spotted it.
Below are some photos they took and a map to illustrate:
"I need a desk chair. Can someone throw one away for me please?"
AWS staff and energetic summer interns have been sorting out trash into 47 categories in this sweltering summer. The trash was captured by the AWS trash trap installed in Nash Run thanks to a grant from District Department of the Environment (DDOE). After the detailed sorting, the trash was bagged in clear plastic bags into 4 major categories: bottles and cans, plastic cups, Styrofoam, and others, to understand trash characteristics by volume. The bags were stacked up and photo-documented. (See the photo below) About 40% of trash is bottles and cans, and about 30% of it is Styrofoam.
I know I said the last one was my last blog post, but I learned something that really blew my mind. We've spent the last two days in Beijing with one of the Chinese participants from our program who has shown us some neat things in the city. What blew my mind, however, was a conversation I had with her on the subway on our way back from an art exhibit. I asked her about the incident on June 4, 1989 in Tiananmen Square. Ms. Zhou, 26, is one of the most open and progressive people in China. In response to my question she said she only learned about the incident a year ago. I thought I'd share that with everyone in the states. Alright, I'll see you all very soon.
June 27, 2010
We flew from Beijing to Yinchuan then from Alxa (inner Mongolia) to Shanghai where we spent a very busy week and I am now finally back in Beijing. I will be leaving Beijing on Monday morning and arrive in Seattle on Monday morning, then fly back to
Washington D.C. The timing is strange, I know, but due to the time difference it makes sense.
One of the Chinese participants who visited the Anacostia with me back in March is the deputy director of water resources in Alxa, which is the western most section of Inner Mongolia. He was able to pull together many of his colleagues to hold a small conference before we left. It was really great to be able to interview each of the local government officials regarding wastewater treatment, drinking water, industrial waste water disposal, and reforestation/ revegetation efforts. Later that day we traveled out of Inner Mongolia to the Ningxia province to a small town called Zhongwei. It was a long and beautiful bus ride through sand dunes as far as the eye could see.
I hope things are going well over there on the other side of the world. They're pretty exciting here in the far west of Inner Mongolia in Alxa. Dr. Michael Zhang and Viola Li have orchestrated an amazing itinerary for us and have been terrific guides since we began in Beijing. I couldn't have asked for better people to hear from or a better way to get a good hard look at China and what they're doing with water.
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