political report card 2011

To create the political report card we assessed each level of government from local (Washington, DC; Montgomery County, MD; Prince George’s County, MD) to state (Maryland) to federal (primarily EPA and other agencies' activity) to give an overall sense of how each is doing with respect to certain Anacostia River restoration activities. To make the most effective comparisons, we evaluated clean-up activities for three major pollutants (stormwater, toxics, and trash) as well as the jusridiction’s overall plan for restoring the Anacostia River. (Bacteria was not assessed because implementation of our consent decrees with WSSC and DC Water will address the major sources of pollution.)

The District of Columbia has the best overall grade, based on a strong new MS4 permit that will curb stormwater pollution, leading on creation of the bag bill and using the proceeds to fund additional trash reduction measures, and having an overall plan to achieve a swimmable and fishable Anacostia River. DC did however receive a mixed grade for toxics remediation, reflecting an incomplete -- they are taking strong steps to move forward at certain sites, but much work remains to be done at those sites and other sites still must be brought into a clean-up framework.

Montgomery County also scores well on stormwater based on their strong MS4 permit, stormwater utility program, and neighborhood-scale retrofit projects. Overall they score well for strategic retrofit and restoration work, as well as research into problems like illicit discharge. However, while we applaud the county for implementing a bag bill and mandating commercial recycling, they are thus far doing little else to remove trash from the tributaries. Finally, we are unaware of any serious work that has been done to assess toxics in county streams.

Prince George’s County gets a mixed score on stormwater: their new stormwater regulations are above state minimums but needed to go farther to ensure the health of county streams. The stormwater retrofit portion of the county’s WIP is pretty good but the implementation piece needs work. AWS applauds County Executive Rushern Baker for supporting the bag bill, but the county agencies have not moved on trash TMDL implementation.

We are concerned about the state of Maryland’s activities with regard to the state’s model MS4 permit and proposed Chesapeake Bay WIP. Early drafts of both are weak on urban stormwater mitigation, with the MS4 template permit having many technical shortcomings that will hinder effective stormwater retrofits.

The federal government gets high marks for developing the Urban Waters pilot program (including the Anacostia) and a dedicated fund for Anacostia restoration projects. We are also glad for the initiative several federal agencies have shown in securing a cleanup of the Washington Gas toxic site, but we wish they could get more involved at other sites where progress has been slower.

Click here to download a printable version of the 2011 State of the Anacostia River.


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