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The Aquilian

The Aquilian

    The need for waterway cleanups in the DMV

    A submerged tire in the Anacostia River is just one example of pollution in the water ways of D.C. (Will Parson/Chesapeake Bay Program)

    Many students know about the struggles that the environment faces, but how many students have looked into how to help the environment? Many waterways in the DMV are polluted and are in need of cleaning. With the help of students, adults and the federal government, clean-ups are underway and continue to happen.

    Some of the main waterways that have been polluted include the Potomac River, Rock Creek and the Anacostia River. These empty into the Chesapeake Bay, and it is listed as impaired for excess nutrients and sediments, which are made up of mostly nitrate and phosphate from fertilizers and sewage.

    “The Anacostia River has the worst reputation, though it’s improving. The Anacostia is impaired with trash along with the excess nutrients and sediments. There are also hazardous pollutants such as heavy metals and PCBs, which are organic chlorine compounds, contaminating the sediments on the bottom of the river in D.C,” said Mr. John Ausema, science teacher.

    Most of the waste that ends up in the rivers and creeks comes from farms and storm runoff. These may not seem like they affect rivers a lot, but the sediments from fertilizers and contaminated water eventually build up and end up reaching these waterways.

    Students at Gonzaga can volunteer to help clean up the rivers that surround their homes, and the Environmental Advocacy Club is a great club to get involved in.

    “We started the club during COVID last year so we haven’t really gotten a chance to do an official cleanup, but we are working to do a Potomac River cleanup after spring break,” said Reid Norton, co-founder of the Environmental Advocacy Club.

    Students can also make small changes at home to help deter storm runoff and sediments from reaching the rivers.

    “In addition to volunteering on trash cleanups, individuals can reduce stormwater pollution at their home by adding rain barrels to catch rain from roofs and rain gardens, which allow water to slowly soak into the soil instead of rushing off into the storm drain,” Mr. Ausema said.

    Students can also try to convince their families to use natural fertilizers. Some fertilizers are unnecessary and just get washed away when it rains, adding to contaminated water. Planting natural and native plants keeps soil just as fresh as fertilizer does. Along with some lifestyle changes and the help of the federal government, waterways in the DMV could see a change in the coming future.

    “At the federal level, we have the Clean Water Act. The EPA is coordinating with the state governments under that law to clean up the Chesapeake. This involves upgrades to sewage treatment plants, the projects I mentioned… and regulations that affect fertilizer application on lawns, golf courses and farms,” Mr. Ausema said.

    To get involved in the Environmental Adovacy Club, students can e-mail Norton or Mr Ausema.

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    • K

      Kellie StewartApr 13, 2021 at 12:43 pm

      This is really important information. Thank you for writing this article!
      If you haven’t yet, check this out: