Cleaning Our Waterways

Skimmer boat intake removing floating debris from the Potomac river.
Cleaning the Anacostia and Potomac rivers

We are dedicated to making local rivers cleaner and safer for everyone. DC Water operates two skimmer boats five days a week to remove floating debris and trash from the Potomac and Anacostia rivers, to improve the quality of waterways within the DC Water service area and beyond.

The skimmer boats have full-time crews to pick up debris from 15.4 miles of shoreline. The boats capture and remove 400 tons or more of floating debris and trash each year, making our rivers cleaner and safer for everyone, including their natural inhabitants—fish, waterfowl, amphibians, and aquatic plants.

DC Water invested in restoring fabridams to reduce the amount of debris that reaches the waterways. Prior to the restoration of these dams, the DC Water skimmer boats were removing closer to 100 tons of debris per month.

In addition, DC Water regularly cleans and maintains more than 25,000 catch basins, removing 23 tons of debris every day. Catch basins are the traps that catch debris and litter before they can enter a storm drain. Download here (PDF) .

Learn about our Clean Rivers Project to reduce combined-sewer overflows.

A skimmer boat captures a pile of floating debris.
DC Water skimmer boats remove
400 tons of trash each year.

You can help to reduce pollution in our local waterways by following these tips:

  • Don't throw trash and yard waste in neighborhood storm drains or catch basins—deposit them in the appropriate cans.
  • Don't throw trash on city streets or in alleys.
  • Report clogged storm drains or catch basins by calling the DC Water Emergency Line at 202-612-3400.

If we all work together to keep our rivers clean and protect our environment, we can make our waterways healthier and safer for everyone.