Protecting Clean Water in the Potomac River
If you live and work in the Washington, DC area, this year’s number one Most Endangered River may hit closer to home than you might think. The Potomac River provides drinking water for more thanmillion people in Maryland, Virginia and the District. Enough so that the odds are pretty good that if you drank a glass of water, made a cup of coffee, or took a shower this morning, you were using water from the Potomac.
The Potomac is our ‘nation’s river,’ rich in a diversity of culture, history and wildlife. It starts its journey to the ocean as a network of headwater streams in the mountains of West Virginia, and then flows 382 miles along fields and farmlands and through the Washington, DC metropolitan region until it eventually reaches the Chesapeake Bay. From the mountains to the Bay, it provides abundant opportunities for recreation and supports communities and businesses that rely on access to clean water.
Thanks to the Clean Water Act, the Potomac has come a long way from when President Johnson called it a ‘national disgrace’ and the water was so polluted you needed a tetanus shot if you fell in. Today, however, the Potomac is still threatened by pollution from agricultural and urban runoff which will only get worse if Congress rolls back national clean water protections.
Earning a grade of D from the University of Maryland a second year in a row, the health of the river is starting to backslide. If Congress weakens the Clean Water Act, our nation’s river – and rivers across the country – are in danger of becoming health hazards, unsafe for drinking or recreation. We can’t afford to go backwards.