Beginning in May, we and our volunteers will be routinely testing multiple sites on the Potomac River for E. coli levels. This type of bacteria serves as a water quality parameter for human health in recreational waters. Every time it rains, household sewage from Washington, D.C., and Alexandria combines with polluted storm water, discharging raw sewage into the Potomac River. Storm drains from Arlington, Fairfax and Montgomery Counties, flush pet waste, fertilizers, and trash into the Potomac River, posing a serious risk to public health and negatively impacting recreational opportunities. Weekly bacterial data collected by our volunteers will be made available to the public every Friday through the free website and smartphone app, SwimGuide so river users know when the river is safe for primary human contact and when it is not!
To participate in the sampling program, you will need to attend our training session, May 15, from 10 a.m. till 2 p.m. at the National Harbor. Anyone over 18 and minors accompanied by a parent can get the training and volunteer. At the training session, you’ll learn everything you need to know so you can help us test the water all summer long, helping us to keep the Potomac River swimmable, fishable and drinkable! Our training session will be held under the white tent at the Ferris Wheel pier at National Harbor. You’ll receive vouchers for complimentary parking in any of the National Harbor Garages or Carousel Lot (excludes the Gaylord Hotel any street meters), again courtesy of National Harbor.
Our volunteer monitoring program runs from May 23 to mid-September 2019. Testing takes place between 7 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Wednesdays or Thursdays. Samples are analyzed on our new floating laboratory, The Sea Dog, and the data is uploaded to SwimGuide on Friday, just in time for weekend recreation.