Swimmable Potomac River Campaign

All of the water bodies covered by the bacteria TMDLs in DC are designated as Class A, meaning they are intended to be clean enough for primary contact recreation uses like swimming and kayaking. For heavily-used aquatic recreation areas, like the DC area, the EPA recommends that water quality criteria include a second (usually higher) concentration level to address short-term exposures. The pollution caps approved by the EPA do not account for short-term spikes in fecal bacteria concentrations that occur after rainfall, and violate the District’s water quality standards, and it keeps people at risk of serious illness.” In addition, the Clean Water Act permit issued by the EPA for the Blue Plains sewage treatment plant fails to set daily limits, instead relying on a monthly average to determine whether the discharges pose a risk to paddlers and swimmers in the river.

Status update: In August 2016 our attorneys at Earthjustice submitted a civil complaint to the U.S. District Court for D.C. on behalf of Potomac Riverkeeper Network, the Anacostia Riverkeeper, and the Kingman Park Civic Association. We are suing the EPA for approving “total maximum daily loads” (TMDLs) for E. coli in the Anacostia River, the Potomac River, Rock Creek, and their tributaries that fail to meet safe water quality standards. In November 2017, we submitted comments challenging Blue Plains’ draft permit because it fails to set daily limits and fails to require updated public notification procedures when untreated sewage is discharged in the river.

Latest Updates

Help Us Protect Clean Water! File your comments to protect the Clean Water Act today!

Clean water is fundamental to our health and our way of life. For nearly 50 years, the Clean Water Act has promised that all Americans have access to clean water for drinking and recreation and that our country’s most valuable natural assets are protected from pollution.  But now the Trump administration is working to eliminate Clean Water […]


We’re Launching the Sea Dog to Help Us Monitor the Quality of the River!

Washington, D.C. – March 19– Potomac Riverkeeper Network (PRKN) today launched the Sea Dog, a 42 foot Chesapeake Deadrise, which will enhance PRKN’s capability to protect and defend the Potomac River and be used to patrol, to do water quality monitoring, and to be a floating classroom for environmental education. Nancy Stoner, PRKN president said, […]


New Water Testing Program at PRKN!

I’m really thrilled to announce the launch of our water quality testing program in D.C. waters! Potomac Riverkeeper is partnering with Anacostia Riverkeeper, Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, Audubon Naturalist Society, Rock Creek Conservancy and DC’s Department of Energy and the Environment (which provided the grant), to begin regular weekly testing for bacteria in DC’s […]