125 million gallons of sewage dumped in Anacostia River

(WJLA) - Water from Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling is treated before being released into the Anacostia River. But most of the city’s runoff from recent rains were combined with raw sewage – about 125 million gallons worth, not including all the trash.

"That's 40,000 train cars full of sewage dumped directly into the Anacostia," explains Mike Bolinder, Anacostia River keeper.

We traveled with Bolinder up and down the channel as he lamented the amount of pollution and trash in the river after a strong rain, when the city’s sewer system cannot handle it.

As he showed us the D.C. osprey migrate back-and-forth between D.C. and South America, he pointed out the river trash – including the caution tape woven into their nests.

"When we talk about all the trash that ends in the river from a storm like this, that's probably a contributor to infant mortality in birds," says Bolinder.

The Anacostia Watershed Society is trying to prevent trash pollution with traps like this one in Nash Run, where trash filled storm drains, causing clogs.

Masaya Maeda built this trap to let the water through, but it still manages to capture bottles, cans, and cups. On Friday, they were cleaning it out.

"In heavy rains, some the trash gets through," says Maeda, who adds that in the five years since he built this thing, it's kept 30,000 pounds of trash from reaching the river.

They spent the day clearing the trap, getting it ready for the next storm.