What’s in the Water: Anacostia Riverkeeper Report Shows Water Quality Improvements in the District

What’s in the Water: Anacostia Riverkeeper Report Shows Water Quality Improvements in the District

Annual DC Citizen Science Volunteer Water Quality Report, Supported by DOEE Grant, Shares Monitoring Data on Bacteria in District Waters

(WASHINGTON, DC) November 5, 2020 — Today Anacostia Riverkeeper reported that water quality in District waterways has improved from 2019 to 2020, with some sites in the Anacostia and Potomac Rivers meeting federal bacteria level standards most of the time. Overall, the results from its 2020 Citizen Science Water Quality Monitoring Report (link title) are encouraging for the future of swimming and safe recreation in the District.

The water quality monitoring project was established in 2018 by a grant to Anacostia Riverkeeper from the District Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE). It is unique because it is done  mostly by “citizen scientists” —volunteers from all eight wards who are trained to collect water samples from assigned locations in their own neighborhoods to assess various water quality parameters, including bacteria (E. coli), pH levels and turbidity. The goal is to provide accurate, rapid, and accessible water quality data to DC residents and visitors, so they can make informed decisions before recreating in District waters.

“This is a unique, collaborative project between DOEE, Anacostia Riverkeeper, and Anacostia Riverkeeper’s partners in this grant: Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, Audubon Naturalist Society, Potomac Riverkeeper Network, and Rock Creek Conservancy, working together on water quality issues and developing an ever-expanding citizen science monitoring network,” noted Suzy Kelly, Anacostia Riverkeeper Vice Chair.

On a weekly basis during the summer, samples were collected from 22 sites known for recreation in the Rock Creek, Potomac, and Anacostia watersheds. All samples were analyzed in Anacostia Riverkeeper’s lab. The resulting water quality data was made available to the public each Thursday through social media, the Anacostia Riverkeeper website, and online data portals.

“By first establishing a baseline in 2019, and monitoring District waters in 2020 and then beyond, we hope to see a continuing improvement in DC’s overall water quality, with a reduction in bacterial loads.  We all want swimmable and fishable waters in the District. This initiative is an important step to achieve that goal,” stated Robbie O’Donnell, Anacostia Riverkeeper’s Program Manager for this effort.

Access the report HERE.

To learn more about this Citizen Science Water Quality Monitoring program: anacostiariverkeeper.org/dc-water-quality.

For inquiries: monitor@anacostiariverkeeper.org or Program Manager Robbie O’Donnell at robbie@anacostiariverkeeper.org


Anacostia Riverkeeper is a 501(c)(3) whose mission is to protect and restore the Anacostia River for all who live, work, and play in the watershed. Anacostia Riverkeeper is a member of Waterkeeper Alliance, an international organization of over 450 Waterkeepers.