Toward a Swimmable, Fishable Anacostia River


On Tuesday, DC Appleseed and our partners the Anacostia Riverkeeper and the Anacostia Watershed Society submitted comments on the first step the D.C. Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) is taking to address the toxic sediments in the Anacostia River. This first step is called the remedial investigation (RI). In the RI, DOEE identified and measured the level of pollutants that have been accumulating in the sediment along the river bottom for decades, starting when the Anacostia was home to heavy industry. Addressing this pollution will be an important part of making the Anacostia a swimmable, fishable river by 2025.

DC Appleseed has been working for many years to promote policies that will reduce stormwater runoff into the River–the biggest source of new pollution. If DOEE can also find a solution for the contaminants already in the River, the dream of the Anacostia as a destination for recreation–and a place for D.C. residents to swim and catch fish to eat–may well become a reality.

In our comments, we urge DOEE to continue moving forward on this project without delay. Similar clean-up efforts in other areas of the country have dragged on for years–sometimes decades. We helped to pass legislation in 2014 that gives DOEE a June 2018 deadline to make a final decision on how to address the pollution. So far, DOEE has shown a commitment to moving forward quickly on this project. We are glad to see this, and we look forward to working with DOEE and our community partners to make the Anacostia River a natural resource that all District residents can enjoy.

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