What You Can Do

Our ultimate goal is a swimmable and fishable Anacostia River. Through the various programs carried out by our Public Policy and Advocacy, Environmental Education, Stewardship, and Recreation teams, AWS is inching toward the goal. Stormwater runoff is the biggest contributor to the pollution to the Anacostia River. It carries all kinds of pollutants from impervious surfaces such as roofs, roads, parking lots--even lawns. The volume and velocity of this concentrated runoff flowing into stream scours the streambed and erodes stream banks, sending tons of sediment into the river, and eventually the Chesapeake Bay. As growth creates more pavement and other impervious surfaces, we increase this damaging flow. We all pollute the Anacostia with our roofs, roads, parking lots, and lawns.

To restore the river, we need to reduce stormwater runoff, as well as the fecal bacteria, trash, and chemicals that pollute the water. The good news is, you can help! Here are a few ways to help protect and restore the Anacostia River:

Green your neighborhood, home, and garden:

  • Apply to our Watershed Stewards Academy and become a leader in your community.
  • Prevent rain from running off your property using rain barrels or cisterns, and use the water for irrigating your yard.
  • Plant native trees, shrubs and flowers. They evolved for our climate so they need less watering and less fertilizer. Native plants usually establish deeper root systems that help rain soak into the ground. The portion that the plants don't use will recharge ground water.
  • Build a rain garden. It's as simple as creating a depression in your yard and planting native plants and flowers inside. The garden holds and filters runoff, and looks beautiful, too!
  • Use fertilizer wisely and sparingly. Use fertilizers that leach nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus) very slowly.
  • Don't flush hazardous waste, motor oil, antifreeze, or harsh cleansers down the toilet or the drain.

Other simple ways to help out:

  • Bring your own bags to the store! Plastic bags are a major trash source for the river.
  • Become a member of the Anacostia Watershed Society
  • Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for updates on campaigns and public events, plus fun photos from the field
  • Receive News and Action Alerts from AWS. Stay informed of the latest watershed issues by subscribing to our free email updates & event announcements. Or just enter your email address in the "Subscribe" box on this page over on the right.

Get local:

The Anacostia Watershed is huge--176 square miles!--and you can help out even more with groups in your own neighborhood. Use this map to find out which subwatershed you live in: 

View Anacostia Subwatershed Boundary Map in a larger map.

Here are links to some of the subwatershed groups in our area:

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