The Potomac River: #1 Most Endangered River
Our friends at American Rivers have put the Potomac at the top of America’s Most Endangered Rivers list. With this year being the 40th anniversary of the Clean Water Act, it is a good time to review some of the many pollution problems our river faces.
Thanks to the Clean Water Act, you no longer see and smell most of the problems in the river, and no president is currently calling the Potomac a “national disgrace,” but the hidden problems are many and in some ways worse than when the problems were palpable. The acid mine drainage issues, problems from industrial agriculture, sewer overflows (after a storm in DC, it is truly the “Pootomac”) may all have worse examples on other rivers, but the Potomac has them all. The urban, suburban, and agricultural stormwater runoff causes serious problems throughout the watershed, at times impairing the use of the river. The past fish kills and pervasive intersex fish issues due to the “chemical soup” the fish swim in have made national headlines for years.
Except for a very few members who understand the seriousness of the issue, Congress is doing nothing meaningful to fix the problems in this, our nation’s river, or in other rivers across the country. In fact, many members of Congress are doing their best to either gut the Clean Water Act or limit the EPA’s ability to enforce it. If this were to occur, the promise of “fishable, swimmable, and drinkable” would be lost; we would be heading backwards, towards the days when rivers caught on fire.
So once again, I ask you to make sure your legislators know how important to you are our rivers and streams. Let them know you want them to keep the Clean Water Act strong. Let them know that by living in this area and drinking the water and everything made with water, they and their families have the Potomac running through their veins. And finally, remind them that their best and safest drinking water will come from healthy rivers and streams.
For our members of Congress, let’s make this personal.
Ed Merrifield, Potomac Riverkeeper
p.s. You can also help protect the Potomac River by making a special donation. Our generous Board members have offered a $1000 matching gift for donations received in the next week.