Flowing Towards a Healthier Future

Washington DC ornithologist Dan Rauch walks to a morning bird count on Kingman Island, Anacostia Park. Washington DC, 2012.
June 13, 2018


Improving the vital waterways that flow through the District is the cornerstone of DC Water’s environmental mission. For the first time in history, the Anacostia River has received a passing health grade from the Anacostia Watershed Society. A momentous occasion that marks the midpoint of the Year of the Anacostia. 

Vince Morris remarks on continuing improvements
to the Anacostia River’s health. DC Water’s future 
headquarters is situated across the river.

For the better part of a decade, DC Water has planned and implemented the Clean Rivers Project—a system of deep tunnels, sewers, and diversion facilities to capture combined sewer overflows (CSOs) to protect our rivers from pollution. In March of this year, DC Water completed the first phase of the  Anacostia River Tunnel system, a 7-mile long segment that is projected to capture 80 percent of CSOs. The tunnel was quickly tested by several hard-hitting rain events and exceeded expectations, capturing a remarkable 92 percent of pollution that would otherwise flow into the Anacostia.

“A cleaner Anacostia that residents can swim in, fish in, boat in, and enjoy more fully is better for everyone and we are proud to have played a role in improving water quality,” said David Gadis, General Manager of DC Water. “Our tunnel system has already made tangible improvements to the quality of the waterways and the remainder of this project will take us even further.”

DC Water’s pair of skimmer boats remove over 500 tons of trash
from the Anacostia and Potomac Rivers ever year.