Potomac River Gets a C for Overall Health

It’s still dealing with significant pollution problems.

Despite improvements to the Potomac River's health in the last year, the Potomac Conservancy gave the nation's river a C, stating that there is still major work to do to improve its overall health. Photograph by Melissa Romero.

Although the Potomac River has slowly become healthier and cleaner, it still has a long way to go, according to the Potomac Conservancy, which recently gave the river a C in overall health.

Yesterday the conservancy released its seventh annual State of the Nation’s river report, which bumped up the Potomac’s health rating from a D to a C. “The grade-point average shows that the river’s progress is excelling in some areas, but troubling signs are on the horizon in others,” said president Hedrick Belin in a statement.

The Potomac River provides drinking water for almost 5 million people and draws about 40 percent of residents in Washington to its waters for kayaking, standup paddleboarding, and rowing. However, it’s long struggled with polluted runoff produced by agriculture, landowners, and wastewater treatment plans. In fact, last year the group American Rivers deemed the Potomac America’s most endangered river.

Potomac Conservancy’s report stated that there have been some noteworthy improvements to the river’s overall health that warranted it an upgrade. In particular, there’s been a growth of the American shad fish within the past year. As of 2012, population of shad in the Potomac River has surpassed 100 percent of the goal established by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The river also garnered an A grade for its increased focus on wastewater management and its efforts to designate protected lands. The Potomac River contains 1.8 million acres of protected land.

The full report is available at Potomac Conservancy’s website

See also: What’s in the Water We Drink?