Water quality data of the tidal Anacostia River was analyzed to assess the river for 3 sections: the Maryland portion of the Anacostia (MD Anacostia), the upper half portion of the Anacostia in DC (Upper DC Anacostia), and the lower portion of the Anacostia in DC (Lower DC Anacostia). As depicted in the chart above, the MD Anacostia received a B- (63%), while both sections of the river in DC received a C (45% for the Upper DC Anacostia and 52% for the Lower DC Anacostia). On average, the % Score for the entire Anacostia was 42% (a C-), which includes the assessment result of Submerged Aquatic Vegetation (SAV). Any grade below an A (80-100%) is considered failure.

Overall, the water quality in all sections has been steadily improving, thanks to the work of many stakeholders. Fecal bacteria indicators in particular seem to be improving in all sections over the past decade (see chart to the right), with the MD Anacostia improving the most quickly. WSSC is certainly working hard to fix broken pipes and other sewage discharges. For more detail on the trends of the fecal bacteria indicator, click here.

However, the water clarity in all sections shows degradation in recent years, likely due to recent rapid development which increases impervious surfaces such as roads, rooftops, parking lots, and other paved and compacted surfaces. As a result SAV has disappeared entirely from the Anacostia River since 2003. Cloudy water does not allow sunlight to reach the river bottom so that SAV can grow. The volume and velocity of stormwater runoff from these impervious surfaces scours and erodes our streambeds and banks, freeing and transporting excessive amounts of sediment that cloud the water and fill in downstream channels. Click for more details on the trends of water clarity and SAV indicators.

Click on the map below to see each section in detail.

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


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