Open Letter to DOEE About Safe, Accessible, and Equitable Swimming in The Anacostia River

Open Letter to DOEE About Safe, Accessible, and Equitable Swimming in The Anacostia River
June 24, 2024 by: Christopher E. Williams, Anacostia Watershed Society President & CEO

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Anacostia Riverkeeper will host the first permitted swim event in the Anacostia River for the general public in over 50 years. This “Splash” event marks a significant milestone in the recovery of the Anacostia River that should be celebrated.

While the Anacostia River has seen dramatic improvements to water quality in recent years, there are important voices, including the Anacostia Watershed Society, expressing concerns about safety and accessibility of swimming in the Anacostia River, even if improving water quality permits it.

Although a successful Splash event is a good first step in highlighting the Anacostia River’s progress, in order to overcome decades of poor water quality and resulting inaccessibility of swimming resources, the following steps must be taken:

  • The public must be assured that water quality in the river is meeting both numerical and narrative water quality standards for swimming.
  • DC residents must be assured that effective administrative and physical infrastructure is in place to ensure safe and accessible swimming.
  • Communities in DC must have access to basic swimming and open water safety education as well as training in swimming instruction, lifeguarding, etc.

The Anacostia Watershed Society believes that these are the necessary basic steps to achieve truly safe, accessible, and equitable swimming in the Anacostia River. We are committed to working with the DC Department of Energy and Environment, DC Department of Parks and Recreations, and all parties to take these steps successfully and with consideration of all residents of the Anacostia Watershed.

To read the letter in its entirety, please open the attached file.

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