During the last week of July Living City DC took a boat trip down the Anacostia River with the Material and Resource Sustainability Interns from Howard University. The trip shed light onto the harmful impact of people living in DC on the Anacostia River. The Anacostia Watershed Society provided this explanation of the watershed:
“Water falling inside the yellow boundary in the form of rain or snow drains into the Anacostia River and its tributaries. In turn, the Anacostia carries that water into the Potomac River where it eventually flows into the Chesapeake Bay.”
Washington DC has a combined sewage overflow system. This means that when there is a heavy rain, the rainwater and raw sewage both dump straight into the river. The Anacostia Watershed society elaborated upon this point by stating, “Each year, Washington’s antiquated combined sewer system dumps over 2 billion gallons of raw sewage and storm water directly into the river. Recent efforts have begun to reduce this overflow volume. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), more than 20,000 tons of trash and debris enter the Anacostia’s waters each year.”
Due to this pollution, the river is unsafe to use for swimming or fishing. In fact, 2/3 of all of the catfish in the river have tumors due to the high level of pollutants. The photo below shows the Howard University Interns observing the contamination in the Anacostia River.