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Urban Waters Partnership

Program Updates - Anacostia


Natural Resource Damage Assessment 

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is now coordinating monthly meetings of Federal and local natural resource trustees through its Natural Resource Damage Assessment program to work together to identify the extent of natural resource injuries within the Anacostia River, the best methods for restoring them, and the type and amount of restoration required. In addition to studying impacts to the environment, the NRDA process includes assessing and restoring the public's lost use of injured natural resources (e.g., closed recreational fishing or swimming). This effort will dovetail with remediation efforts under the Anacostia River Sediment Project.

Community-Based COVID-19 Relief

The Anacostia UWP helped facilitate a new COVID-19 relief fund through the Anacostia Park and Community Collaborative, which has directed over $50,000 to directly support small community organizations in the most vulnerable neighborhoods of the District of Columbia to respond to the coronavirus pandemic by building internal capacity to collaborate remotely through new technology and training; by supporting green workforce development around forest restoration; and by supporting existing mutual aid efforts. 


Anacostia River Sediment Project Proposed Plan

The National Park Service (NPS) and District Department of Energy and Environment are completing the plan to address contamination in the sediment at the bottom of the Anacostia River. A Proposed Plan was released by DOEE at the end 2019, which lays out potential adaptive management strategies to address contamination in “early action areas” in the river. Monitoring of these early action areas would inform future steps taken by the agencies. The Sediment Project is informed by input from the District of Columbia’s Leadership Council for a Cleaner Anacostia River that includes several Urban Waters partners including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Interior and more. A Record of Decision for the ARSP is anticipated in Fall 2020. 

Anacostia Park Meaningful Engagement Cohort

The Anacostia UWP facilitated a new relationship between the National Park Service (NPS) and the Anacostia Park and Community Collaborative, a cohort of more than 30 community-based organizations focused on improving the value of the river corridor for residents of Ward 7 and Ward 8, neighborhoods with the District of Columbia’s lowest incomes and most Black residents. Together with additional partners including the National Reentry Network for Returning Citizens and the District of Columbia Public School District, these partners launched the “Anacostia Park Meaningful Engagement Cohort,” which brought together government and community-based partners to explore practices to engage stressed populations through relevant, curated outdoor programming, including a series of six family-focused events at the Anacostia Park Skating Pavilion. Over 300 families engaged with these events.


Anacostia River Swimming Feasibility Study

Anacostia Urban Waters Partners including the Anacostia Waterfront Trust, National Park Service and District Department of Energy and Environment oversaw a study on the feasibility of swimming in the Anacostia River completed by SmithGroup, a design and engineering firm. The results of this study are available at

Year of the Anacostia

The Anacostia River Partnership (DC/MD) celebrated the Year of the AnacostiaExit, officially recognized by the U.S. House of Representatives. Over 50,000 people attended over 200 Year of the Anacostia events. The March opening of the DC Water Anacostia Tunnel Project marked a major infrastructure milestone for the Year of the Anacostia. From March through December 31, the tunnel prevented 4.5 billion gallons of sewage, and nearly 900 tons of trash, solids and debris, from entering the Anacostia.


Connecting for a Cleaner Anacostia

The District Department of Energy and Environment and the National Park Service held a meeting on Wednesday, June 21, called “Connecting for a Cleaner Anacostia River: Meeting for Stakeholders.” The event introduced initial findings from sediment studies and discussed current river conditions, potential sources of pollution, unique challenges of cleaning the Anacostia River, and possible cleanup options.

Click here for more info on the project. Exit

Diversifying your Partnership

The Anacostia Ambassador presented “Diversifying Your Partnership: The Anacostia Experience” alongside the Anacostia Watershed Society, Zion Baptist Church and the East River Family Strengthening Collaborative at the Choose Clean Water conference in Charlottesville, VA, on May 23.

RainPay Garden in Southeast DC

On May 11, 2017, the Anacostia Waterfront Trust was joined by the Progressive National Baptist Convention (PNBC), US Environmental Protection Agency, District Department of Energy and Environment, and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to cut the ribbon on the Trust’s first RainPay rain garden at the PNBC headquarters near Watts Branch, a tributary of the Anacostia River. The RainPay rain garden earned the District’s first Stormwater Retention Credits (SRCs) for a purely voluntary project sited within the Anacostia MS4 drainage area. Proceeds from selling the SRCs to developers or the District will be used to pay for the lease to PNBC, ongoing maintenance, and reinvestment in additional RainPay sites at houses of worship, affordable housing developments and nonprofits that will further restore the Anacostia and its tributaries.

Article on balancing development with restoration

The Christian Science Monitor published an article about how the activities around the Los Angeles River and Washington's Anacostia River could test how well communities can balance new development with opportunities for longstanding residents.

Read the full article hereExit

Enhancing Coordination

On March 27, Anacostia Ambassador Katherine Antos convened a meeting with local government agencies, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, and watershed organizations working within the Anacostia watershed to discuss opportunities to enhance coordination and facilitate ecosystem restoration activities. Participants identified the following priorities for coordination: 1. building a regional analysis of the level of effort needed to achieve a healthy watershed; 2. enhancing engagement, outreach, and behavior change efforts to increase stewardship opportunities; 3. streamlining or accelerating the permitting process for restoration activities; and 4. enhancing workforce development opportunities through restoration and maintenance work. Participants will work with the Anacostia Watershed Restoration Partnership to explore options for watershed-level analyses and pursue Restoration Roundtables to further engage key agencies and organizations.

Expanding Diversity Presentation

Jim Foster of the Anacostia Watershed Society, Reverend Keith Kitchen of Zion Baptist Church of Eastland Gardens, Angele Doyne of East River Family Strengthening Collaborative, and Anacostia Ambassador Katherine Antos will be leading a workshop on expanding the diversity of partnerships to envision healthy waterfronts at the May 24-25, 2017 Choose Clean Water Conference in Charlottesville, VA.

Click here for more informationExit

Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum recognized by Urban Waters Learning Network

The Smithsonian’s Anacostia Community Museum was featured on the Urban Waters Learning Network website in an impact piece on their research and civic engagement with the communities surrounding the Anacostia River Watershed. Through the years, the museum has hosted a variety of exhibits on the history and preservation of the watershed as a component of the Urban Waters Program.

Read the article here. Exit


2017 Planning

The Anacostia Park and Community Collaborative, which includes 18 community-based and city-wide nonprofit organizations, met on November 30th. Discussion focused on activities in 2017 that would support the goal of community-led, equitable revitalization of the Anacostia River parks, adjacent neighborhoods, and a thorough cleanup of the Anacostia River.

Preparing for DC 100 Resilient Cities Launch

On November 29th, the Anacostia Partnership and the Environmental Law Institute gave a presentation to DC's 100 Resilient Cities Launch Team about an innovative proposal to create resilience corridors in the District. The corridors would catalyze community-based planning and implementation efforts to address a variety of sustainability goals. 

Read the Ambassador's blog on resiliency here. Exit

Wilderness Inquiry's Canoemobile on the Anacostia

Thanks to the National Park Trust, Izaak Walton League, and National Park Service, students learned about wildlife along the river, water quality, and impacts of pollution through land-based activities in addition to taking canoes out on the water. Wilderness Inquiry's Canoemobile took District of Columbia and Maryland students out on the Anacostia River from October 31 - November 4. 

Urban Waters Ambassador named to the Federal Agency of Stormwater Management Workgroup

On November 3, Katherine Antos, Anacostia Ambassador, participated in a meeting with staff from EPA, DoD, General Services Administration, National Parks Service, National Capital Planning Commission, and the District Department of Energy and Environment to discuss federal agencies' stormwater management within the District of Columbia. Katherine was named a member of the Federal Agency Stormwater Management MOU Workgroup and will work with the agencies on projects which will help meet water quality goals for receiving waters, including the Anacostia River and the Chesapeake Bay. 

Anacostia Riverwalk Trail

On October 31, federal and state leaders gathered to commemorate the opening of a 4-mile segment of the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail. This creates a network of almost 70 miles of trails in the District, Montgomery and Prince George's Counties and provides access to 16 waterfront communities. The Riverwalk Trail is the culmination of over two decades of planning and was funded by federal, state, and local funds totaling over $22 million. Plans exist to continue expanding the trail network. 

Festival del Rio Anacostia

The Anacostia River area will be celebrating the first ever "Festival del Rio Anacostia," an evironmental and cultural festival to connect the Latino community with the Anacostia River and its restoration. The event will feature demonstrations, boat tours, games, food, and more.

Park(ing) Day

Anacostia Urban Waters Ambassador, Katherine Antos, participated in two Park(ing) Day events on Friday, September 16th to increase awareness about the Anacostia River. Park(ing) Day is a national event that temporarily turns city parking spaces into mini parks. The first site was co-hosted by the National Park Service, and focused on parkland and rivers in the DC area. The second site was hosted by the DC City Council and featured five organizations working on the Anacostia: the Anacostia Waterfront Trust, Wahington Parks and People, Living Classrooms, The Nature Conservancy, DC Urban Green, and Washington Area Bicyclists Association. Both spots created an excellent opportunity to gather the public's and local officials' vision for what a healthy Anacostia would mean for the citizens of the region. 


Anacostia Riverwalk Trail to receive $10 million

The Anacostia Riverwalk Trail project was selected from over 400 applications to receive $10 million from the US Department of Transportation to complete the final portion of the trail. The Anacostia Riverwalk Trail serves as a backbone of the Anacostia Waterfront, connecting residents, visitors and communities to the river, one another, and numerous commercial and recreational destinations. The National Park Service played a critical role in developing the successful proposal.

Earth Conservation Corps offers water quality workshops to local students

The Earth Conservation Corps has a wonderful Water Quality Monitoring program for students as citizen scientists. ECC has introduced this program to students in the Washington DC area. Students visit the ECC pumphouse on the Anacostia River where the water quality monitoring occurs.

The Earth Conservation Corps Exit is a key partner in the Anacostia Watershed location.

Students as Citizen Scientists: Water Quality Monitoring (1 pg, 2015, About PDF)You may need a PDF reader to view some of the files on this page. See EPA’s About PDF page to learn more.

The East Capitol Urban Farm

The Anacostia UWFP location, the University of the District of Columbia (UDC), and the DC Housing Authority (DCHA) partnered to transform an abandoned parcel into the District’s largest-scale urban farm and aquaponics facility – the East Capitol Urban Farm. The farm promotes urban agriculture and improves nutrition through a community-centered farmers market; offers nutrition education; provides community gardening; creates opportunities for entrepreneurship; and includes a research and demonstration site for UDC. This opportunity for partners is to develop this farm as a model for temporary use of vacant lots while demonstrating on-site stormwater management and local food production.

UDC's CAUSES initiative and students from the Maya Angelou School Young Adult Learning Center put the finishing touches on the farm on December 4th, 2015.

Read: Are Mobile Urban Farms a Good Use of Space in DC? Exit

Read about the build day on the EPA Blog Exit.


Anacostia River Pilot highlighted in Press Event 

Officials from the District of Columbia, Maryland, and key U.S. federal agencies including the Department of the Interior, the Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency gathered at Bladensburg Waterfront Park on November 4, 2011 to highlight progress made to restore the Anacostia River Watershed and call attention to projects underway to transform it into a model urban waterway and park. Home to more than 800,000 residents, 43 species of fish and more than 200 species of birds, the restoration of the Anacostia River Watershed and the development of the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail has twice been identified as a priority project for the Urban Waters Federal Partnership (UWFP). Both initiatives seek to reconnect Americans to the great outdoors and revitalize urban waterways in underserved communities across the country.

Partnership was a strong theme from the day. Presenters remarked that restoring local places to where for the environment, business, and residents is only possible because of innovative efforts to work together. Partners in Anacostia are working to make their efforts for the River a model for the nation, showing how transforming the environment can lead to opportunities to promote the health and well-being of communities. Hopefully, these efforts change the perception of watersheds like the Anacostia so they can become cherished for the amenities they provide to local people. 

During this event, Senator Cardin presented a signed photo of the river to Jim Connolly, Chairman of Board for Anacostia Watershed Society and to Dennis Chestnut, Executive Director of GroundWork Anacostia for their dedication and work to improving the Anacostia watershed.

Top Federal, D.C. and Maryland Leaders Commit to Transform Anacostia Riverfront into Model Urban Waterway and Park

November 4, 2011

BLADENSBURG, M.D.— Officials from the District of Columbia, Maryland, and key U.S. federal agencies including the Department of the Interior, the Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency today gathered at Bladensburg Waterfront Park to highlight progress made to restore the Anacostia River Watershed and call attention to projects underway to transform it into a model urban waterway and park.

Home to more than 800,000 residents, 43 species of fish and more than 200 species of birds, the restoration of the Anacostia River Watershed and the development of the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail has twice been identified as a priority project for the Urban Waters Federal Partnership (UWFP). This initiative seeks to revitalize urban waterways in underserved communities across the country.

Efforts to restore the Anacostia River to health have been ongoing. DC and Maryland government plan to work with federal partners to invest in trails and parks, bringing new life to the communities and habitats that line the Anacostia River. The Anacostia River trail will be a lasting benefit since local people will have a new transit route connecting them to jobs and schools, which also encourages development and environmental protection. Using trails this way has the added benefit of being an affordable and completely green transportation option. 

Another goal of restoring the Anacostia is to transform it into a place where businesses want to set up shop and hire and where people can come together and build connection. 

With scarce federal funding, investing in projects with multiple benefits that pull resources from existing pools is not only innovative. This strategy helps make communities more livable and economically viable. While the Anacostia has been historically important to the region as a route for trade and connecting communities, those living along much of its banks are economically vulnerable. With federal and local government collaborating on a ten-year Anacostia River restoration plan and cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay, this area has demonstrated commitment and momentum towards restoring the entire watershed.

At today's event, officials participated in a ribbon cutting ceremony marking the recent completion of 1.5 miles of trail in Maryland and exemplifying the strong ongoing local, state, and federal collaboration to provide additional opportunities for residents and visitors to access and enjoy Anacostia Park and the Anacostia River.

During the ribbon cutting, the state announced $1 million in additional state funding to develop a trail link that will connect Maryland and the District of Columbia's Anacostia Riverwalk Trail Network. Once complete, the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail Network will offer nearly 60 miles of contiguous trails – including 39 miles in Maryland and 20 miles in the District of Columbia.

Officials and locals are hopeful that completing one of the Nation's largest trail networks will allow the region to pursue more efforts to link up and create a system for bikers, walkers, and commuters throughout the area.

In addition to increasing public access through the development of trails, the District of Columbia and Maryland have been working with the Department of the Interior, the Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency on several river cleanup and restoration projects. One such example showcasing the benefits of partnership is the Watts Branch Project, an innovative urban stream restoration project that will prevent 1,500 tons of erosion from entering the Anacostia.