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Anacostia River Initiatives

The Anacostia River Watershed covers portions of the District of Columbia, Prince George's and Montgomery County in Maryland. The Watershed is approximately 176 square miles (456 sq. km.) in area and roughly 25% of its land area lies in the District. The river is entirely tidal in the District while the upstream land area in Maryland is primarily non-tidal. The Anacostia River, once a pristine river is now degraded, mainly due to its highly urbanized character. The river is the focus of large-scale restoration efforts by District government. One of the District government’s biggest efforts is the Anacostia River Sediment Project.

For a Cleaner Anacostia River

The “For a Cleaner Anacostia River” initiative aims to clean the river’s sediments. To start the initiative, also known as the Anacostia River Sediment Project, a work plan has been prepared for the remedial investigation. The remedial investigation is the first major step in this type of cleanup; the objective of the investigation is to assess the nature and extent of pollution in the river by sampling river sediment and fish for a wide variety of chemicals. Sampling is now underway.

Plan for a Fishable and Swimmable Anacostia River

In May of 2008, the District Department of the Environment laid out the Anacostia 2032: Plan for a Fishable and Swimmable Anacostia River initiative, which describes a vision for the future of the Anacostia River, as well as how to achieve that vision. The Mayor recognized that, although restoration efforts to attain Clean Water Act goals in the Anacostia River have been ongoing for more than twenty years, there is still a long way to go before the river can be considered fishable and swimmable. The City's goal is to restore the Anacostia a fishable and swimmable river by the year 2032.

Anacostia Waterfront: Realizing the Vision

With development projects underway and planned, the Anacostia Waterfront Initiative focuses on the District of Columbia's fastest-growing area of employment, entertainment and residential growth. Substantial improvements to the Anacostia Waterfront's transportation network will improve access to the new and existing destinations while appropriately linking adjacent communities within the Washington metropolitan region.

Multiple agencies and thousands of stakeholders and residents worked together to develop the Anacostia Waterfront Framework Plan. Their continued cooperative efforts are essential as the District and others move forward in the implementation of numerous projects that help realize the vision for the waterfront.

Anacostia TMDLs & Watershed Implementation Plan

Another initiative to clean the Anacostia River is the implementation of Total Maximum Daily Loads and Watershed Implementation Plans. The United States Environmental Protection Agency requires that states calculate the maximum amount of a pollutant that its water bodies can receive and still meet water quality standards. These levels are called Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs). Because the Anacostia has been determined to be impaired by several pollutants, the District has developed several TMDLs - one for each pollution problem it is facing.

Watershed Implementation Plans are roadmaps for how the District of Columbia can achieve and maintain the TMDL limits necessary to meet water quality standards for the District's streams and rivers. In other words, it is a plan for how District government, the civic sector, and citizens can work together to clean up the District's waters. The Anacostia Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP) was approved by the EPA in January of 2013.

Other Water Quality and TMDL-related links include:

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