Anacostia River

The Anacostia River is a river that flows about 8.4 mi (13.5 km) from Prince George's County in Maryland, USA and through Washington, D.C. where it joins with the Washington Channel to empty into the Potomac River at Hains Point. The name "Anacostia" derives from the area's early history as Nacochtank, a settlement of Necostan or Anacostan Native Americans on the banks of the Anacostia River. Captain John Smith recorded in his journals that he sailed up the "Eastern Branch" or Anacostia River in 1608 in his search for the main branch of the Potomac River and was well received by the Anacostans.

During the American Civil War, an extensive line of forts was constructed south of the river in order to prevent Confederate artillery from bombarding the Washington Navy Yard, which lies adjacent to the river.

Heavy pollution in the Anacostia and weak investment and development along its banks have led to it becoming what many have called "D.C.'s forgotten river." In recent years, however, private organizations, local businesses, and the D.C., 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 sq. mi. (456 km²) in eastern Montgomery County and northern Prince George's County, as well as parts of Washington, D.C. Tributaries of the Anacostia include Watts Branch; Northwest Branch; 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 and Hickory Run flow directly into the river.

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

Pursuant to a stormwater discharge permit issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the D.C. government is implementing a stormwater management program to improve water quality in the Anacostia. [District of Columbia. Department of the Environment. August 17, 2007. [ "2007 Implementation Plan: District of Columbia NPDES Permit No. DC0000221 Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System."] ] The governments of Montgomery County and Prince George's County also operate stormwater management programs in their respective jurisdictions. [Montgomery County. Department of Environmental Protection. Rockville, MD. May 2003. [ "Montgomery County's Commitment to Anacostia Watershed Restoration."] ] [Prince George's County Government. Upper Marlboro, MD. October 26, 2007. [ "Prince George's County Announces Anacostia Initiatives."] Press Release.]

In late 2004, AWS and other organizations announced plans to sue the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) 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 were 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. Fact|date=March 2008

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. [David Fahrenthold,, online interactive map. June 17, 2008. [ "Improbable Legacy of Cleaning Up the Anacostia River"] ]

ee also

*Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge
*John Philip Sousa Bridge
*List of District of Columbia rivers
*List of Maryland rivers
*Maryland Crew
*Whitney Young Memorial Bridge
*11th Street Bridges


External links

* [ Anacostia Watershed Society]
* [ Anacostia Watershed Network]
* [ Maryland Department of Natural Resources - Anacostia site]

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