Potomac River Named the Most Endangered River of the Year

Pollution poses a major threat to the nation’s river.

The Potomac River was named the most endangered river in the US by American Rivers. Photograph courtesy of Flickr user brownpau.

Here’s at least one reason it’s a good thing two triathlons in Washington have been canceled within months: The Potomac River was just named the most endangered river of the year.

American Rivers, the DC-based organization that works to protect and restore US rivers and streams, released its annual list of America’s most endangered rivers on Tuesday. The Potomac topped the list, due to the threat from urban and agricultural pollution.

According to the report, the Potomac provides more than 5 million people with drinking water. Over the years, the river has seen increased use for recreation, including boating, kayaking, canoeing, paddleboarding, and rowing. It is also where the swim portions of the Nation’s Triathlon and the DC Triathlon take place.

The cancellations of two triathlons this year weren’t due to the river’s quality.

This isn’t the first time the Potomac has received a poor rating. Last year it received a D rating by Ecocheck due to its poor ecosystem health. 

American Rivers said the river’s pollution has improved, but Congress’s potential move to slash clean-water safeguards with the proposed H.R. 872: Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2011 may make the pollution problem even worse. “This year’s Most Endangered Rivers list underscores how important clean water is to our drinking water, health, and economy,” American Rivers president Bob Irvin said in a statement. “We simply cannot afford to go back to a time when the Potomac and rivers nationwide were too polluted to use.” 

The nine other rivers that made the list include Green River, Chattahoochee River, Missouri River, Hoback River, Grand River, South Fork Skykomish River, Crystal River, Coal River, and Kansas River, respectively.