The Potomac River Achieves First Place!

American Rivers is a Washington D.C.-based organization working to protect and restore the nation’s rivers and streams. Each year they honor our nation’s river systems. This year, the top “honor” goes to the Potomac River.

  • Notice I have not yet disclosed the special honor bestowed on this beautiful river.

The Potomac River has been called our nation’s river because of its proximity to Washington, DC. Over 5 million people share the benefits of the Potomac River watershed that gathers its water from parts of Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia. In terms of area, the Potomac River is the fourth largest river along the Atlantic coast of the United States. It is the 21st largest in the United States. Throughout history, major river systems have been very important, strategic assets to the development and prosperity of towns and cities that have used (and abused) these waterways.

This year, the Potomac River has earned First Place on American River’s list of American’s Most Endangered Rivers of 2012!

The fact is that since the Clean Water Act was passed in 1972, there has been significant progress in cleaning up rivers. In spite of the efforts and results, pollution rates continue to soar.

  • Smaller headwater streams miles upriver continue to be polluted from growing population and land use practices: urban development and agricultural pesticides, fertilizers and stormwater runoff.

The Potomac Conservancy discusses just one of the many issues that plague the river – Intersex Fish:

“A 2006 study by the U.S. Geological Survey of fish from the Potomac River and various tributaries found intersex in 80% of male bass examined. All samples — those with and without signs of intersex — contained detectible levels of at least one endocrine-disrupting compound. Also, a recent study showed that chemicals commonly found in personal care products, including fragrances and anti-mocrobial products, were found in muscle tissue of 100% fish tested. The waters (in Texas) were found to be persistent in the fishes environment because of continuous introduction from a wastewater treatment plant.”

What can be done to continue efforts to improve the Potomac and other polluted rivers?

Bob Irvin, President of American Rivers. “If Congress slashes clean water protections, more Americans will get sick and communities and businesses will suffer. We simply cannot afford to go back to a time when the Potomac and rivers nationwide were too polluted and dangerous to use.”

The article, Two West Virginia Rivers on Endangered List introduces us to the Potomac and Coal Rivers. Many river names can be substituted in their place because of high pollution levels. The Potomac River supplies almost 90% of DC metro area drinking water. If these problems are developing in fish, imagine the longterm impact on others who use rivers for recreational purposes and consume the very fish that are carrying the pollution loads that humans have introduced into our rivers and streams.

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