Potomac, Anacostia rivers still not going swimmingly


Would you swim in this water? If so, under what conditions? From Wikipedia.

Would you swim in this water? If so, under what conditions? From Wikipedia.

The Potomac River is, umm, semi-better. At best. And an elegant, game-changing park just opened on the Anacostia River. So why isn’t everyone celebrating? Is it not time to strip down and jump in the river, frolicking with the fish?

Of course not. The Potomac River, despite attracting Bull Sharks further down, is gross. The water is less murky and grass is thriving in some places, but we shouldn’t delude ourselves into thinking this is victory. The male fish still have eggs and multiple states are dumping runoff into the water.

The Anacostia is worse. In addition to all the problems of the Potomac, the Anacostia is located on less prominent territory, has all measures of smokestacks on its banks, fecal contamination and tons of trash.

Of course there are no ecstatic celebrations. We must be generations away from being able to embrace these rivers with bathing suits again, and that possibility seems as remote as ever.

But, much like the less-bad state of the national economy in comparison to 18 months ago, we should be quietly contented to know the Titanic’s rudder has shifted us ever so slightly off course from the iceberg.

I haven’t been to The Park at the Yards in Near Southeast, but have visited Diamond Teague Park, a park and docking area of Nationals game day traffic. The riverfront has tons of potential; a Great Blue Heron shared twilight with me as 20,000-plus cheered on the away team in Nationals Stadium. The list of places you can see a sight like that in D.C. can be counted on one hand.

From the looks of the new park and possibility of a boardwalk connecting it to Diamond Teague, D.C. is closer than ever to competing with Alexandria and National Harbor in terms of lively waterfront real estate.

But condo towers and hard-scaped parks do not signify the end of the work ahead. Driving in my car today, a gust of wind caught a small piece of plastic and swirled it out onto the Baltimore-Washington Parkway. From there it will likely end up in the Anacostia and float down into D.C., days, months or years from now. I just wish at the other end of the Anacostia, there was a more responsible me down there ready to scoop it up and help save the rivers, one step at a time.

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2 Responses to Potomac, Anacostia rivers still not going swimmingly

  1. carsonata says:

    Though it takes several generations for rivers to be returned to their normal, almost pollution-free states, it still takes a village to respect and love and protect the water. When I was young the Ohio River was a smelly cesspool, but these days, though it is still brown with runoff after a big rain, it is cleaner and friendlier to aquatic life. A minor victory, I would say, and people do swim, boat, and water ski in it. Swimsuits on the Anacostia or Potomac? Naw, but blue water from 10,000 feet? Yes, and that is surely progress.

    • B-Money says:

      Funny thing is when they have triathlons the swimmers do go in the Potomac. And I have seen plenty water skiers as well. But the note about the Ohio River is encouraging.

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