Anacostia River

From Academic Kids

The Anacostia River is a river that flows about 8.4 mi (13.5 km) from Prince George's County in Maryland, to cut through from east to south in Washington, DC, where it empties into the Potomac River at Hains Point. The Anacostia River was originally known simply as "the Eastern Branch."

Heavy pollution in the Anacostia and weak investment and development along its banks have led to it becoming what many have called "DC's forgotten river." In recent years, however, private organizations, local businesses, and the DC, Maryland and federal governments have made joint efforts to reduce its pollution levels in order to protect the ecologically valuable Anacostia watershed.

The watershed of the river roughly covers 176 mi² (456 km²) in Eastern Montgomery County and Northern Prince George's County, as well as parts of Washington, DC. Tributaries of the Anacostia include Northwest Branch and Northeast Branch, the confluence of which just above Bladensburg forms the main stem of the river; Sligo Creek, Paint Branch, Little Paint Branch, Indian Creek, Beaverdam Creek, Dueling Branch, and Brier Ditch flow into these two tributaries while Lower Beaverdam Creek, Hickory Run, and Watts Branch flow directly into the river.

See also: List of Maryland rivers

Pollution sources

One of the biggest problems facing the Anacostia River is raw sewage that enters the river and its tributaries due to antiquated sewer systems. The sewage creates a public health threat due to fecal coliform bacteria and other pathogens; it also impairs water quality and can create hypoxic conditions that lead to large fish kills.

The Washington, DC Water and Sewer Authority (WASA) was sued by the Anacostia Watershed Society (AWS) in 1999 for allowing more than 2 billion US gallons (7,600,000 m³) of combined sewage and storm water to flow into the river via its antiquated combined sewer overflow system. In settling the lawsuit, WASA agreed to invest $140 million on pump station rehabilitation, pipe cleaning and maintenance and public notices of overflows.

In late 2004, AWS and other organizations announced plans to sue the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission over similar problems with river contamination from the Maryland suburbs. According to WSSC, more than 4 million US gallons (15,000 m³) of raw sewage was released into Anacostia tributaries between January 2001 and June 2004. The discharges are due to breaks in older sewer lines as well as overwhelmed or failing pumps and clogged lines.

Another large source of river pollution is the Washington Navy Yard, which is sited alongside the river and is believed to be a source of PCB contaminants in the river and sediment.

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