Acting Anacostia Riverkeeper Trey Sherard is the voice for clean water and healthy communities in the Anacostia watershed. Anacostia Riverkeeper protects and restores the Anacostia River for all who live, work, and play in the watershed. They also advocate for a clean healthy river for all of the river’s communities. Anacostia Riverkeeper envisions a fishable, swimmable and enjoyable Anacostia for all. Like a “neighborhood watch” for the watershed, they patrol streams and rivers and hold all accountable to their environmental responsibilities. We advocate for clean water laws that are fair and enforced consistently.
“Our nation’s rivers belong to everybody, not just the people who can afford front row seats.” Anacostia Riverkeeper
Six issues dominate the restoration efforts for the Anacostia Watershed.
Polluted Runoff (Stormwater) – Pavement and impermeable landscapes alter the way in which rain interacts with the earth. Rain, nature’s lifeblood, gets diverted into storm drains and becomes a delivery method that carries surface pollutants into the river. Anacostia Riverkeeper instalsl rain barrels and rain gardens at places of worship and low income community housing to capture and reuse rainwater.
Trash – Trash is more than just an eyesore.Hundreds of tons of trash load up our river and tributary streams. Plastic bottles, styrofoam, furniture, and shopping carts – these all makes the river unsafe for wildlife and humans. Trash is expensive to remove and negatively impacts the aesthetics in addition to the well-being of communities. Anacostia Riverkeeper’s Clean Waterways series of volunteer cleanups removes thousands of pounds of trash a year from the Anacostia and helps engage citizens with their river.
Combined Sewer Overflows (CSO) – A sewer system that is over 150 years old releases two billion gallons of untreated sewage mixed with stormwater into the Anacostia River each year. The Anacostia River Tunnel Project is the second in a series of four tunnels that will mitigate combined sewer overflows that are currently discharged to the Anacostia River. In March 2018, upon completion of this first phase of the Clean Rivers Project, combined sewer overflows to the Anacostia River have now been reduced by 81 percent. The overall goal of the Clean Rivers Project is to reduce the volume of combined sewer overflows thereby reducing the amount of potentially harmful bacteria into the river, hopefully allowing the Anacostia to be swimmable once again.
In 2018 Anacostia Riverkeeper implemented a new bacterial water quality monitoring program along all 8 miles of the Anacostia River in Maryland and DC, monitoring 8 sites stretching from Bladensburg to Haines Point. Over the course of the year, the monitoring program grew thanks to a partnership with Maryland SeaGrant and Gallaudet, as well as a retail store grant from Patagonia. Starting in 2019—thanks to a grant from the District Department of Energy and Environment—they monitor 22 sites across all DC waters including the Anacostia, Rock Creek and the Potomac. Anacostia Riverkeeper has partnered with a coalition of organizations around the DC area: Audubon Naturalist Society, Rock Creek Conservancy, Potomac Riverkeeper Network, Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, and volunteers to help carry out this program. It’s our collective goal to provide up-to-date water quality data for all DC waters in order to ensure safe, clean, and fun recreation for all of DC’s residents and visitors. https://www.theswimguide.org/affiliates/anacostia-riverkeeper/
Toxics– Toxic chemicals such as PCBs, PAHs, and pesticides have a legacy of contaminating the river and poisoning wildlife. Up to two-thirds of the brown bullhead catfish in the river have cancerous tumors and/or lesions, and the toxins in their tissues can be passed on to humans when consumed. Of recent concern are pharmaceutical chemicals, “endocrine disruptors,” that can cause male fish to grow eggs. The Anacostia River Sediment Project is focused on the cleanup of contaminated sediments in the Anacostia River and is being implemented by the District’s Department of Energy & Environment (DOEE) and the National Park Service (NPS). The project’s overall goal is to protect public health, protect the environment, and finally remove all fish consumption advisories along the whole length of the river. A Proposed Plan that specifies the selected cleanup option for the contaminated sediments is scheduled to be completed in 2018.
Environmental Justice – Low income communities and minorities often bear the disproportionate share of negative environmental consequences that result from industrial, governmental, and commercial operations/policies. Flowing through the poorest neighborhoods in the District of Columbia, the Anacostia River has been the nation’s forgotten river. National parklands in its watershed are now abandoned toxic dumps. Furthermore, communities bear the health risks of living near power plants and landfills. Parents who taught their kids to swim in the river no longer dare to go near it.
For much of the last half-century, accessing the Anacostia has been difficult. Several factors contributed to a citizenry which by and large avoided the river and was not concerned about the state of the river. To help combat this, Anacostia Riverkeeper brings “Anacostia Connect” programming to provide meaningful encounters with the river and to increase awareness of the challenges facing the River and of its potential as a resource today and in the future. As residents encounter the river, its beauty, its opportunities and its rich history, they will take greater ownership of the river and care for the river.
Subsistence Fishing – Thousands of anglers consume and share toxic Anacostia fish. Many are frequently unaware of fish advisories and often unconcerned about risks from fish consumption.