Potomac River placed on most endangered rivers list

Some band news for the Potomac River. It has been named the country's most endangered river.

The group "American Rivers" says the waterway is threatened by urban and agricultural pollution and will only get worse if Congress doesn't act.

District resident Joshua Wooten said, "It's peaceful, and I like seeing the ducks play, and every now and then, you can see some fish."

During his lunch breaks from his job in Georgetown, Wooten goes down to the Potomac to clear his mind.

"It's just not good, and I think something really needs to be done about it," Wooten said after hearing that his favorite meditation spot could be in trouble.

Experts cite urban development as the root cause of the degradation, with rainwater carrying pollutants from various sources into the river. The chemicals then help algae grow.

Robin Broder, vice president of Potomac River Keeper, explained, "...and once the algae dies, it sucks all the oxygen out of the water, kills the fish, kills aquatic plants."

But beyond concerns about the marine life in the Potomac, many residents in the D.C. metro area also get drinking water from it.

"The water treatment plants aren't made to handle the chemicals that we now have in our life," Broder added.

And even though only a small amount of those chemicals make it into the drinking water, they are still consumed everyday.

Researchers do not yet know what the long-term health consequences will be.

American River's new report was released on the 14th anniversary of the Clean Water Act. The group chose the Potomac, in part, to shift the nation's attention to the actions of Congress.

Bob Irvin, president of American Rivers, said, "The fact that many of the male fish found in the Potomac River have eggs is pretty disturbing. That's not what nature intended."