The Potomac River's Recovery May Be Stalling
The Potomac River is much cleaner today than it was in 1964 when then U.S. President Lyndon Johnson called it “a national disgrace,” but efforts are still needed to get it to an A grade, Hedrick Belin, President of the Potomac Conservancy, told attendees of a May 26, 2021, Zoom meeting of the Friends of Dyke Marsh. “It is still too polluted for swimming and fishing,” he cautioned.
In the Conservancy’s latest report card analyzing 2020 conditions, the Potomac got a B-, declining from a B in 2018. It is greatly improved from its 2011 grade of D, but the recovery is plateauing. See https://potomacreportcard.org/.
Two problems stand out. Shoreline deforestation and ever-expanding impervious surfaces take away the land’s ability to naturally absorb rainwater. In the Conservancy’s analysis, forested shoreline buffers earned an F grade. Hard surfaces like parking lots, roads and roofs block rainwater’s natural infiltration into the ground.
To have a cleaner river, Belin advised, “We need to work with nature, not against it, replicate it.” He challenged attendees to be Potomac River advocates, to restore what George Washington called “the nation’s river.”
Cosponsors of the program were the Four Mile Run Conservancy Foundation, Porto Vecchio Condominium, the Friends of Little Hunting Creek, the Friends of Mason Neck State Park and the Society of Conservation Biology, Washington, D. C., chapter.
To see the presentation, click on the image at the bottom of the page.