To Our Citizen Science Volunteers

Photo by Tusik Only

Potomac Riverkeeper Dean Naujoks out patrolling with the newly donated Yamaha Motor.I sincerely want to thank all of you for the amazing work you have done collecting samples every single week and helping to operate our lab on the Sea Dog! The first week in October is the last week we will be sampling in VA and Maryland! We have come a long way since we started our water quality monitoring program in May 2019! We will continue to expand our Citizen Science monitoring program next year and hope many of you will return!

The data you have collected has helped me as the Riverkeeper better understand the river. After almost every public speaking engagement, I would frequently be asked “how is the river? Is it safe?” I used to be uncomfortable answering that question because we had so little information about bacteria levels in the river. The last thing a Riverkeeper wants to do is discourage people from using the river but at the same time, we are expected to use science and law to truthfully inform people about the conditions of the river.

Our monitoring program has helped me understand there are some places along the river that are much safer than others to swim like National Harbor (85% pass rate), Pohick Bay, Mallows Bay while other locations in DC waters closer to combine sewer overflows (CSO’s) are not as safe for human contact. It has become very clear that smaller tributaries where CSO’s are discharging like Battery Kimble Creek (5% pass rate) and even larger creeks like Rock Creek are frequently not safe for human contact even during extended periods of dry weather. Yet, there are often several weeks in a row from May through October where the main stem of the river is generally safe for human contact. Obviously, rain events are the biggest contributing factor to high bacteria levels in the Potomac. If you have not read our Swimmable Potomac Report or are not familiar with our Swimmable Potomac Campaign, please click the link to learn more: There will also be a few hard copies of our Swimmable Potomac Report on the Sea Dog should any of you prefer a hard copy.

I want to give a special shout out to Carl Scheider for successfully managing our lab and all our volunteers! Potomac Riverkeeper Network (PRKN) has named Carl as PRKN Volunteer of the Year for 2020! Thank you, Carl!

As an appreciation for your service, National Harbor has generously provided free Ferris wheel passes to all our Citizen Science volunteers! I have been given 40 passes but likely can get more if interest is high? If you are interested there will be free Ferris wheel passes available this Wednesday, September 30th from 8:30 am to 1:30 pm. You can stop by the Sea Dog and pick them up!

If you are with the DC Citizen Science Water Quality Program under Anacostia Riverkeeper and have not been to our research vessel the Sea Dog, contact me, so we can schedule a tour — We will provide you with a free parking pass and a ticket to the Ferris wheel. You don’t need to use Ferris wheel passes on Wednesday if you would like to come.