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Yes, it’s really possible!


The Anacostia River is getting better

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Initial Study Complete: It’s Feasible!

Architectural, engineering and planning firm SmithGroup studied the feasibility of creating a permanent swimming facility in the Anacostia River.

See the latest water quality data

The Anacostia Riverkeeper is currently monitoring water quality in the Anacostia River every week through a citizen science program funded by the Department of Energy and Environment. You can view the latest test results on their website or on SwimGuide.

It is still not legal to swim in the Anacostia River outside of permitted events. When it rains, pollution can still be swept into the river and make it unsafe for swimming. But things are getting better, and creating a safe facility for swimming in the Anacostia River is possible.

Water quality is improving

Thanks to the work of many government agencies, utilities, nonprofits and advocates in the District and in Maryland, the Anacostia River is turning around. On some days out of the year in 2018 and so far in 2019, the river passed health standards for swimming, according to the Department of Energy and Environment and Anacostia Riverkeeper.

Learn more »

The sediment will be cleaned up

The District Department of Energy and Environment and the National Park Service are working on a plan to clean up the bottom of the Anacostia River. So far, the studies show that the sediment does not pose a risk to swimmers, as long as they avoid contact with the bottom.

Learn more »

Swimming is now legal for permitted events

In 2018 (the “Year of the Anacostia”) the Department of Energy and Environment updated its regulations to permit swimming events in the Anacostia River as long as event organizers apply for a permit and pass water quality tests in the weeks leading up an event.

Learn more »

District residents want to swim

92% of respondents to a question about swimming said that they would swim in the Anacostia River when it is made safe and accessible to do so (out of 871 responses, as of February 2, 2019). It’s human nature to be drawn to water. We are investing so much in cleaning up our river, why not make it safe to do the most natural thing—jump in?

Take the survey »

Filling a gap in access

The Department of Parks and Recreation identified many of the neighborhoods surrounding the Anacostia River as target neighborhoods for additional splash pads and water-based recreation facilities in its 2015 Play DC Vision Plan.

Read the Play DC Vision Plan »

A pool for everyone

The Anacostia River Pool will be for everyone. Pools in DC used to be segregated, and many African American children learned how to swim in the Anacostia River in the ‘50s and ‘60s instead of the safety of a supervised pool. The Anacostia River Pool can reclaim the river as a fun and safe environment for all DC kids to learn how to swim.

Learn more »

It’s been done before

Swimming facilities have been built in restored waters around the world, and the District is one of many U.S. cities preparing to swim in its urban river.


Thames Bath, London, United Kingdom



Can I jump in now?

There are days when it is safe to swim in the river, but it is currently illegal to swim outside of permitted events. The river is getting better but it is not always safe to swim, and the sediment can currently pose a risk to waders.

It will take time to plan and prepare for a swimming facility in the river, and we want to make sure that a pool can be created as soon as possible as restoration efforts are completed. We are talking about swimming now, even though the river isn’t yet fully restored, because we want to make sure that planning efforts around the river incorporate the need for access to swimming.

If you’re excited to swim when it’s time, let the world know on Twitter and sign up to get to updates from us about improvements to the river and about possible “splash days” in the future.