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Anacostia and Potomac River Monitoring Program
The Anacostia River and Potomac River Monitoring Program provides information regarding the current water conditions of the Anacostia River and Potomac River in the locations displayed on the map below. Measurements include temperature, Dissolved Oxygen (DO), pH, depth, chlorophyll, and turbidity.
Click the map above to view real-time information. Follow the link and then click on the green dots on the map to get station location and real-time data. To view data beginning from May 2008 click on the measurement graphs displayed after selecting a station. To obtain large amounts of data, click the “Reports” tab on the menu bar at the top of your screen.
Update: The real time monitoring stations on the Potomac and Anacostia rivers have been suspended till early spring of 2015, weather permitting.
Helpful Definitions for Real-Time Water Quality Monitoring:
Dissolved Oxygen (DO)
DO is the amount of oxygen that is found in water and available to be used by aquatic organisms such as fish and shellfish. DO is a very important measure of water quality as low DO levels can stress organisms. In DC, the DO levels should range from 4.0 to 6.0 mg/L or greater, depending on the time of year. Warmer water cannot hold as much oxygen as colder water.
Water temperature is the measure of how warm or cold water feels. If water temperatures fluctuate constantly aquatic organisms such as fish and shellfish will become stressed. Chronically stressful conditions may cause the aquatic organisms to relocate to an area with more suitable water temperatures. Water temperatures should not exceed 89° F.
pH is the measure of acidity or basicity of water. The pH range most suitable for aquatic organisms is between 6 to 8.5. The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14. Neutral pH is 7. Acids have a pH value of less than seven, while bases have a pH value higher than 7.
Turbidity is a measure of water clarity. Relatively clear water (low turbidity) is necessary for the growth of aquatic plants. Aquatic plants serve as nurseries and food sources for fish and shellfish.
Chlorophyll is a measure of the amount of algae (plants) in water. Chlorophyll is the main chemical responsible for photosynthesis in plants, the process by which sunlight is converted into food energy. Too much algae robs the water of adequate dissolved oxygen for other aquatic organisms survival.
The depth of water quality sensing devices located on the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers can change as a result of the tidal influence on the water bodies or an increase in flow due to precipitation.
Water Quality Reports and Information [PDF]
View water quality reports and information regarding all District of Columbia water bodies.
For more information, please contact the Water Quality Division.