Clean Water Campaign
Protecting and Restoring the District’s Water
Most District residents rarely think about the two great rivers, the Anacostia and Potomac, which wind their way through our communities. Our rivers provide us with the 80-100 gallons of water the average American uses each day. Helping District residents see how our rivers and creeks are important to our health and economic well being can transform the way we look at our communities. Re-defining our relationship with our rivers and creeks can lead to more interaction including being able to someday fish and swim and walk along river banks and streams without worrying about raw sewage and toxics carried by stormwater. Developing communities along the rivers that protect our waterways from harm can make our nation’s capital city a more desirable and safe place to live and work.
Our nation’s capital city has some of the most polluted urban rivers in the United States. Over 1.6 billion gallons of raw sewage and polluted stormwater are forced into the Anacostia River, Potomac River and Rock Creek by our antiquated combined sewer system. We have the plans, but not the resources to start curbing this pollution. We are also challenged by the lack of connection people in the Metro Washington region have with our waterways. Some of our challenges include:
- Connect more people with our rivers and creeks
- Demonstrate the connection between clean waterways and the economic health of our communities
- Design and implement creative funding mechanisms to access the resources necessary to restore our rivers and creeks
- Continue to develop strategies that don’t stop at the District or state lines. We will never meet our river restoration goals without a watershed –wide approach
- Continue to make sure decision makers are prioritizing the needs of our rivers
DCEN works in coalitions that enhance our capacity to move towards accomplishing these goals and ultimately achieving fishable and swimmable waterways and making our communities livable and economically viable.
The D.C. Environmental Network has been at the forefront of protection and restoration of area rivers and creeks. We have coordinated over 30 forums and discussion and many more coalition meetings in the last decade on issues of importance to our rivers and creeks. Some of our specific accomplishments (partial):
- Pushed successfully to create the DC Department of the Environment to make sure our executive branch thinks about river restoration every day.
- Saved parkland at picturesque Oxen Cove in Ward 8 by blocking a prison from being built along the shore.
- Led city-wide coalition that successfully protected strong environmental standards for all new developments along the Anacostia River.
- Helped save Kingman and Heritage Island Islands in the Anacostia River from foolish development and a giveaway of public land.
- Helped pass legislation to protect the Anacostia River by curbing the use of plastic bags by attaching a small fee to their use to be used to fund clean-up. We have also helped lead coalition efforts to block the mis-use of these same funds for purposes that have nothing to do with river restoration efforts.
- Helped pass new stormwater fee legislation to generate funds for stormwater projects designed to help area rivers and creeks.
- Passed legislation to protect large trees and their stormwater retention abilities that keep polluted stormwater out of our rivers. Have successfully advocated for the planting and maintenance of thousands of trees in the last decade.
What Can I Do?
- Join the Clean Water Campaign!
- Clean Up the Anacostia River & Potomac River — Volunteer with the Anacostia Watershed Society or the Alice Ferguson Foundation
- Learn about the many organizations working to restore area rivers and creeks!
- American Rivers
- Anacostia Riverkeeper
- Audubon Naturalist Society
- Casey Trees
- Clean Water Action
- DC Appleseed
- DC Greenworks
- Friends of Rock Creek Environment
- Friends of the Earth
- Global Green USA
- Groundwork Anacostia DC
- Natural Resources Defense Council
- Potomac Riverkeeper
- Surfrider Foundation