Partnerships revive D.C. Watershed

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

By Emily Bazydlo

The ecologically valuable Anacostia River in Maryland and Washington, DC, once known widely for high levels of pollution, is recovering thanks to the power of local partnerships. 

A main source of pollution in the Anacostia is stormwater runoff.  Stormwater runoff is rainfall that flows over the ground surface and is the number one cause of stream impairment in urban environments such as Washington, DC. Large volumes of runoff can cause flooding and erosion, and the water picks up many different pollutants that are found on paved surfaces before entering the river. You can learn more about stormwater issues at forestsforwatersheds.org/reduce-stormwater.

The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) and Department of Energy and the Environment (DOEE) are implementing solutions that will reduce runoff and restore the river’s public benefits such as clean water, a place to recreate, wildlife habitat and more.

On October 4, 2106, representatives from DOEE, DDOT, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) boarded a boat on the Anacostia to learn about progress made in past years thanks to the dedicated work of all the agencies represented. Through Clean Water State Revolving Fund grants from the EPA, DOEE and DDOT implement projects that have significant positive impacts on the health of the Anacostia River. The EPA grants help restore the urban tree canopy, and have been applied particularly in areas within the Anacostia River watershed. These trees act as a buffer between impervious surfaces and the river, directly reducing pollutants and sedimentation.

The District’s urban forestry program is managed through DDOT and directed by State Forester Earl Eutsler. The program plants nearly 8,000 trees a year throughout our nation’s capital, including a particular focus within the Anacostia Watershed. Learn more about the DC urban forestry program at ddot.dc.gov/page/ddot-urban-forestry.

The Anacostia River provides an example of how several different agencies—local, state and federal--are working together to have a positive impact on our environment. Thanks to hard work from these partnerships, the Anacostia River is getting a fresh start.