Wettest Year On Record Pushes Anacostia River Grade Back Below Passing

Despite Setback, Overall Trend is Improving
Wettest Year On Record Pushes Anacostia River Grade Back Below Passing Krista Schlyer
June 6, 2019

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Washington DC, June 6, 2019 – Following a year marked by the highest recorded rainfall ever in the Washington D.C. region, the Anacostia River slipped back from last year’s passing grade, receiving an “F” on the Anacostia Watershed Society’s 2019 State of the River Report Card.

Record rainfall meant that tremendous amounts of sediment, animal waste and organic matter were dumped into all area rivers -- diminishing water clarity, smothering aquatic vegetation, and increasing bacteria levels.

“In 2018, Mother Nature “flushed” and it all ended up in our rivers, including the Anacostia River,” said Jim Foster, President of the Anacostia Watershed Society. “But the investments we’ve made over the past two decades are paying off, and we’re already seeing the indicators bounce back this spring.”

The Anacostia Watershed Society marked several successes in 2018 that reduced the impact of the rain and increased the watershed’s ability to recover:

  • In its first year of operation, the D.C. Water tunnel exceeded expectations, capturing 5 billion gallons of combined sewage, as well as over 200 tons of trash and 600 tons of sediment.
  • Higher up in the watershed, WSSC made significant progress fixing exposed and leaking sewer pipes, and keeping those overflows out of the streams and tributaries that lead to the Anacostia River.
  • With the leadership of the National Park Service, the population of destructive geese was significantly reduced, meaning less bacteria and more protection for aquatic vegetation.
  • For the first time, Trash Reduction achieved a passing grade, thanks to strong local government policies, multiple cleanup efforts and bans on some materials.

“Since our founding 30 years ago, we’ve been in this for the long haul, and this year’s setback doesn’t change that,” said Jim Foster. “Swimmable and fishable is still within our sight, and we are committed to getting there for the benefit of everyone who lives, works and visits this community.”

In developing the State of the River Report Card, Anacostia Watershed Society relies on the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science EcoCheck methodology. The full Report Card, and supporting data is available at https://www.anacostiaws.org/state-of-the-river-report-card

Maureen Farrington

Maureen Farrington

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