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Natural Resource Restoration

Restoring the Anacostia River

Anacostia River Watershed
The Anacostia River watershed, shown on the right-hand side of the map above, is 176 square miles in area and covers two counties in Maryland and a portion of the east side of the District of Columbia.

Flowing through Maryland and the District of Columbia, the Anacostia River is one of the Chesapeake Bay's most heavily altered watersheds. Toxic chemicals including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), petroleum compounds, and pesticides pollute the river. Only six percent of the area's original forests remain, and over 95 percent of the tidal wetlands have been lost. Historic fisheries are gone, remaining fish are unsafe to eat, and river water is unsafe for fishing and swimming.


NOAA Restoration Activities

Since 1999, NOAA has been working with local and state partners to address these problems by helping to assess contaminants, restore tidal wetlands and fish habitat, create new public access, and cleanup trash in the Anacostia River.

Currently, in efforts to restore the Anacostia watershed, NOAA is:

  • Promoting stewardship among students through river education and cleanup programs, including a trash clean-up on March 18, 2006.
  • Addressing how to clean up the thousands of tons of trash that end up in the river annually by partnering with the Anacostia Watershed Society (AWS) and the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments' Anacostia Watershed Restoration Committee (AWRC) to implement strategies to reduce trash and marine debris accumulation in the watershed.  These strategies are outlined in the Anacostia Watershed Project workplan (pdf, 148kb), released by NOAA and partners in May 2005.
  • Partnering with the Alice Ferguson Foundation to organize and fund the Potomac Watershed Trash Summit on March 16, 2006.
  • Expanding the existing Anacostia Watershed Database and Mapping Project to include restoration projects and contaminants in a user-friendly geographic information system (GIS) tool. This project will be publicly available on the Internet and aims to help partner agencies and local citizens groups identify priorities and make watershed management decisions.
  • Collaborating with the National Park Service, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the government of the District of Columbia, and the Maryland State Highway Administration to restore wetland sites and enhance public access along the river. One of the projects aims to increase tidal wetlands in the Anacostia watershed by nearly 20 percent.
  • Actively working with EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to develop and implement a program that will focus on cleanup and restoration priorities, enhance coordination, and leverage funds for projects.
  • Working with EPA to identify, clean up, and monitor toxics in the river.
  • Improving habitat by funding the Council of Governments Anacostia Watershed Restoration Committee to remove fish passage barriers.
  • Enhancing communities by funding AWS to develop and implement a teacher and student Anacostia education program through the NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office's Watershed Education & Training Program.


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For More Information

Office of Response and Restoration

NOAA's Damage Assessment, Remediation, and Restoration Program

DARRP Anacostia River Watershed Partnerships

Anacostia Watershed Society

Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments' Anacostia Watershed Restoration Committee

Anacostia Watershed Project Workplan (pdf, 148kb)

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