What We Do

Key issues for the Anacostia Watershed.


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Pavement and impermeable landscapes alter the way in which rain interacts with the earth. Rain, nature’s lifeblood, gets diverted into storm drains and becomes a delivery method that carries surface pollutants into the river.

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Trash is more than just an eyesore. Hundreds of tons of trash load up our river and tributary streams. Plastic bottles, styrofoam, furniture, and shopping carts – these all makes the river unsafe for wildlife and humans. Trash is expensive to remove and negatively impacts the aesthetics in addition to the well-being of communities.

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Toxic chemicals such as PCBs, PAHs, and pesticides have a legacy of contaminating the river and poisoning wildlife. Up to two-thirds of the brown bullhead catfish in the river have cancerous tumors and/or lesions, and the toxins in their tissues can be passed on to humans when consumed. Of recent concern in our waterways are pharmaceutical chemicals, “endocrine disruptors,” that can cause male fish to grow eggs.

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For much of the last half-century, accessing the Anacostia has been difficult. Several factors contributed to a citizenry that by and large avoided the river and was not concerned about the state of the Anacostia. To help combat this, we’ve offered boat tours of the Anacostia River through the Anacostia River Explorers program for 6600 District residents over a two year period in order to increase awareness of the challenges facing the River and of its potential as a resource today and in the future. As residents encounter the river, its beauty, its opportunities and its rich history, they will take greater ownership of the river and care for the river.