Water Quality in the Anacostia River: What the Data Shows

Last year was the “Year of the Anacostia,” and DC’s best river got a lot of new attention. With big projects like the Anacostia River Tunnel making huge positive impacts on the river’s health, headlines started saying things like “Coming Soon to D.C.: Rivers Clean Enough for Swimming.” Water quality specialists at the District Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) have been measuring water quality in the Anacostia and Potomac Rivers for years, but the agency recognized a need to prepare for increased interested in measuring the progress of the river.

Acknowledging History: Swimming and the Anacostia River

Before 1949, pools were segregated in the District of Columbia, and African Americans had few safe places to swim in the city. As the Anacostia River marches toward becoming swimmable and fishable in the near future, the District not only has an opportunity to celebrate the clean water resulting from billions of dollars of cleanup investments, but also to acknowledge the history of environmental racism surrounding the water.