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Clean Water Campaign

Protecting and Restoring the District’s Water

“The D.C. Environmental Network’s Clean Water Campaign is the central organizing vehicle for environmental, public health, and community group efforts to clean up the Anacostia River. We all depend on the Network to develop strategy and keep the coalition focused on our common goals. “
Nancy Stoner, Former Director, Clean Water Project, Natural Resources Defense Council

The Opportunity

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.

The Challenge

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.
DCEN Water Priorities
DCEN’s Clean Water Campaign will continue to focus on the following:

  1. Connect People to the Rivers – Work to connect people to the waterways that wind through all of our communities. Assist other organizations in promoting opportunities to restore our rivers whether by advocacy or by participation in forums and events on the rivers edges. Oversee efforts to help District residents make the connection between healthy rivers and healthy communities and show our efforts can help create new jobs and a stronger economy.
  2. Help Develop and Fund River Restoration Programs and Policies – Work to develop strategies to restore our rivers and find creative funding mechanisms to pay for new stormwater management technologies that can help. Help demonstrate the cost –effectiveness of retro-fitting our urban buildings to manage stormwater more effectively and in a way that supports the natural movement of water.
  3. Keep the Attention of Decision Makers – Continue our efforts to make sure clean waterways and safe drinking water are never too far down the priorities lists of our decision makers. Continue to hold meetings and forums to continue making sure that efforts to clean area rivers make sense and will result in real improvements.

DCEN Accomplishments

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.
  • Clean Water CampaignHelped 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?