Anacostia River receives first passing grade on water quality report card

Anacostia River receives first passing grade on water quality report card (ABC7)

The Anacostia River received a passing grade on its river report card for the first time in the decade-old grading system for the waterway.

The Anacostia Watershed Society said the river received an overall grade of a D, which is an improvement from an F over the past 10 years. The grade is based on water quality indicators like fecal bacteria, water clarity, submerged aquatic vegetation and storm water runoff.

“You know, you can’t fix what you don’t measure, right?” said Jim Foster, the Anacostia Watershed Society president.

Charles Patrick lives in Northwest Washington and spends at least one day a week at the water.

“I love fishing. That’s what I like to do,” he said.

As much as he enjoys the relaxation of waiting for the bend of the fishing pole, he doesn’t eat anything at the end of his line.

“I’ve tasted fish out of here and I really shouldn’t have because I don’t like fish here,” said Patrick.

Fifty percent of the fish in the Anacostia River have tumors from years of contamination, according to Foster.

“For years now we’ve had failing grades, we’ve had issues with sewage and trash and toxic chemicals in the river,” he said.

“Have I seen things like extra pieces of fish growing out of a fish? No, I haven’t. Or a fish with two heads? No I haven’t seen none of that,” said Patrick with a laugh.

He has seen open wounds on fish that makes him not want to touch them. That doesn’t mean Patrick’s latest catch couldn’t make it on someone else’s dinner plate. Fellow fishermen or people relaxing on the riverbank sometimes take the fish.

“Yeah, they ask, ‘Are you going to keep it?’ And I be like, ‘No, I’m going to throw it back.’ They be like, ‘No, let me get it.’ Then I let them have it,” he explained.

The Anacostia has a bad rap and it’s easy to see why. While the Watershed Society works with volunteers and government agencies to clean up the area, but toxic contaminates are hard to get rid of and trash litters the shoreline.

Like a proud parent, Foster announced Wednesday that his beloved river is cleaning up its act, with a lot of help.

“Reversing centuries of neglect and mistreatment,” said Vince Morris of DC Water.

Patrick is glad to see the river getting cleaned up and understands it will take time.

“It didn’t get dirty overnight so it ain’t going to be clean overnight,” he said.

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