by Rebecca Chillrud
March 16, 2018
On March 5th, young rowers braved the cold for crew practice on the Anacostia River in Maryland. The teams returned to dock at the Bladensburg Waterfront Park, just a few miles upstream from the nearly-completed Anacostia River Tunnel. The tunnel will prevent combined sewer overflows that lead to raw sewage entering the river.
A combined sewer system transports both sewage and stormwater in the same pipes. Normally, this is all taken to a wastewater treatment plant for cleaning. However, during large rainstorms when the sewer system is unable to handle the influx of water, combined sewer overflows can occur. To prevent flooding, excess flow—this combination of rainwater and untreated sewage—is discharged directly into rivers or creeks. The Anacostia River Tunnel is part of a plan to reduce this overflow by up to 80 percent, leading to vastly improved water quality in the river.
Completion of the tunnel is just one of the major Anacostia milestones for 2018, which has been declared “the Year of the Anacostia.” This year is the 100th anniversary of the law which preserved open space along the river as Anacostia Park. It also marks 200 years since Frederick Douglass, whose historic home is in the Anacostia area, was born.
Events celebrating the Year of the Anacostia will occur throughout 2018. These will be great opportunities to experience the river, but you don’t have to wait for an official event—the best way to celebrate the Year of the Anacostia is to get outside and enjoy all the river has to offer, whether by visiting the park for a picnic, going hiking, kayaking or even some rowing in the cold.