Oct 20, 2021

Overhaul Planned for Two Anacostia River Streams

The Anacostia River flows next to communities that suffer from some of the region’s lowest employment rates, highest poverty rates and poorest health indicators. 


Federal and local governments are preparing to spend an estimated $34 million on stream restorations in two branches of the Anacostia River.

According to The Bay Journal, construction is scheduled to begin in the fall of 2022. 

The Anacostia River watershed in the District of Columbia and Maryland is home to more than 800,000 people, 43 species of fish and some 200 species of birds, according to EPA. Due to heavy urbanization, the watershed has lost 6,500 acres of wetlands and 70% of its forest cover. Impervious surfaces now cover more than 25% of the watershed, added EPA. 

If unrestored, upland streams can contribute excess nutrient and sediment pollution to the river, reported The Bay Journal. Storm water from surrounding developed areas can scour dirt away from stream banks and send it downstream.

“Upland BMPs are instrumental to anything that is done with the receiving waters,” said Frank Galosi, head of the county’s stormwater management division, reported The Bay Journal. “All that is collectively needed to address the issues. It’s all connected.” 

Near the U.S. Capitol, the Anacostia River flows next to communities that suffer from some of the region’s lowest employment rates, highest poverty rates and poorest health indicators. 

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers split the $1.8 million study costs for the project with Prince George’s County, Maryland, reported The Bay Journal. The work will restore 7 miles of stream habitat in the river’s northwest and northeast branches in Prince George’s County, Maryland. 

Most of the federal funds approved by Congress for the project will be funneled through the Corps’ Baltimore District.

“One of the major features of this project is [that it will] link all of those previous efforts and open up a larger corridor of restored streams, so the fish can travel farther upstream,” said Tham Saravanapavan, a project manager for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, reported The Bay Journal.

Removing blockages to fish passage will open up 4 miles of stream for species such as alewife and blueback herring to spawn and connect them to 14 miles of previously restored stream reaches. The $34 million that are anticipated to be spent on the second and third order streams encompasses approximately six major projects. 

In the 2021 State of The Anacostia River Full Report, the score for Toxics Remediation received its first passing grade. According to the report, despite it being the third wettest year on record, underwater grasses are strongly recovering and received a 100% score in the last two years.

“A primary goal of the AWI is to restore the environmental conditions of the Anacostia River, reestablish its natural ecosystems, provide a safe and clean shoreline, and promote sustainable development,” according to the 163-page 2010 Anacostia River plan.

Factors that contribute to the overall grade for water quality in the Anacostia River, the Anacostia Watershed Society evaluates and grades each of three sections of the 9­ mile tidal river for the key indicators of dissolved oxygen, fecal bacteria, water clarity and chlorophyll a.

Read related content about watersheds: