Anacostia Watershed Blog

Dealing with Debris

After Sandy one did not have to look far to find horrifying images of storm damage up and down the East Coast. The DC metro region was, thankfully, spared by the worst of the weather but, as Lori pointed out in this blog post, there was definite evidence of Sandy’s impact on the Anacostia watershed.

It was all the more evident during the education team’s first canoe trip out since the storm. We were not surprised to find an enormous amount of debris floating in the river. While much of it was sticks, logs, leaves, and other natural materials, just as much, if not more, was plastic and glass bottles, styrofoam cups and containers, and other bits of non-biodegradable materials. One type of plastic that was few and far between, however, was the plastic bag. We can, again, give credit to the DC bag fee for keeping an enormous number of these bags out of the river.

Hurricane Sandy's Impact on the Anacostia Watershed


View of the Anacostia River under the South Capitol St Bridge.

Team AWS Runs the Marine Corps Marathon

The Anacostia River is only 8 miles long, but this past Sunday, October 28, nine dedicated runners covered 26.2 miles each to support the river's restoration. As a charity partner of the Marine Corps Marathon, Anacostia Watershed Society was able to give race entries to runners who raised a minimum of $500 to support our work. Together, the nine runners of Team AWS raised thousands of dollars! Thanks to Paul & Laura McGrath, Gwyn Jones, Josh Hamlin, Allyson Romanow, Upendra Jejjala, and Gehan Talwatte, and AWS staff Simon Plog and Julie Lawson (me!) for your dedication!

October Seeds Bring Spring Plants

The past couple of weeks were busy ones for the Education team. We took advantage of the gorgeous fall weather by being outside practically every day with both students and adult volunteers. A good portion of our time was spent collecting various seeds as the plants matured, dried, and began to drop their fruits at the cold's approach.

Students collect Partridge Pea Seeds at ANA 11

All of the seeds we collected fall into two categories, wetland plants and meadow plants, and have differing modes of collection.

Meadow Plants

River Herring and Shad

By Mathew D'Alessio

Shad and river herring are "anadromous" fish which means that they spend majority of their lives in the ocean, and only return to freshwater in the spring to spawn. Traditionally, these fish spawned in almost every river and tributary along the East Coast.

Reptiles from the Late Triassic

By Amanda Simms

Turtles Basking on the Anacostia

I’m not talking about dinosaurs; I’m talking about turtles. It may surprise you to know the turtles existed when the last of dinosaurs were evolving in the late Triassic period, about 230 million years ago. Turtles can be found all over the world and there are approximately 300 species living today.

In the Anacostia watershed, we have 19 species of turtles. The most common in suburban areas (your backyard) is the box turtle. In coastal plain areas musk and mud turtles are most common. In different types of water, from freshwater to brackish (a mix of salt and fresh water) we see more snapping turtles. And in larger bodies of water like the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, sea turtles lurk.

Last Call for Comments on Pepco Benning Road Investigation Work Plans

Friday, September 28, 2012, is the submission deadline for public comments regarding the three work plan documents Pepco developed, per the Consent Decree, for the investigation of suspected contaminants migrating from their Benning Road property to the Anacostia River.


Google Map showing neighborhoods immediately impacted by Pepco Benning Road Facility operations. Starting from the northwestern portion of the map and ending in the northeastern portion, these neighborhoods are: Carver Terrace, Langston Terrace, Kingman Park, River Terrace, Mayfair, Eastland Gardens, Kenilworth-Parkside.

A Good First Step for Pepco Benning Road Community Engagement

On Saturday, September 15, 2012, Pepco and the District Department of the Environment (DDOE) hosted a Community Meeting at the District of Columbia Department of Employment Services building on Minnesota Avenue. This meeting was an important step forward for engaging the community in the Pepco Benning Road environmental site investigation and cleanup to learn more about these efforts and provide comments directly to DDOE and Pepco officials.

Attendees of the September 15, 2012 Pepco Benning Road cleanup community meeting
Attendees of the September 15, 2012 Pepco Benning Road cleanup community meeting

Public Meeting Concerning Pepco Benning Road Investigation

On September 15, 2012, Pepco and the District Department of the Environment (DDOE) will host a Community Meeting at the District of Columbia Department of Employment Services (4058 Minnesota Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20019) in the Community Room from 11 am to 1 pm. This public event is an opportunity for those interested in the Pepco Benning Road environmental site investigation and cleanup to learn more about these efforts and provide comments directly to DDOE and Pepco officials.

Click here for a copy of the official public notice.

We have also compiled summaries of the work plan documents currently up for public comment:
1. Summary of the Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study (RI/FS) Work Plan
2. Summary of the Health and Safety Plan

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.

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