Our River

Damage assessment will include the impact on important biota such as this Great Blue Heron and the fish it is consuming. Photo: Krista Schler

A group of scientists and engineers from the District and Federal government agencies is at work on a Damage Assessment Plan that is part of the Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration (NRDAR) process,  a key part of the restoration of the Anacostia River.  The purpose of the NRDAR is to add to the basic clean-up of pollution sites by restoring, rehabilitating, replacing, and acquiring resources and services in the River to replace those lost or damaged over time.  And all of us can help.

Assessment of damages will include the impact of emissions from PEPCO and other businesses on wildlife on the Anacostia. Photo: Krista Schlyer

The NRDAR Trustees, who comprise the group carrying out this set of studies, come from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the U.S. Department of Commerce, the National Park Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service in the U.S. Department of Interior, and the DC Department of Energy and  Environment (DOEE).

The draft Damage Assessment Plan is out for public review right now and comments are due by September 16.  To provide comments on-line, visit: https://parkplanning.nps.gov/AnacostiaDAP.  

If you prefer e-mail, send to:

Key elements for your review and comment are the twelve specific activities outlined in a table on pages 4-8 to 4-12 of the Plan. 

These are:

1.  Review and analyze existing information on the effects of hazardous substances on sediment-dwelling biota (native plant and animal life),  what concentration causes injury, what should be the baseline to protect the biota?

2.  Assess potential remedial impacts in the River, both geographic effects and time frame of various remedial activities.

3.  Desktop analysis of surface water impacts on sediments and their biota, including loss of services to deepwater areas.

4.  Biological data review to determine baseline conditions and effects of hazardous substances.

5.  Evaluate existing  toxicology analysis
of effects of hazardous substances on fish and their consumers.

6.  Evaluate existing toxicology literature on fish and other aquatic biota tissue on birds. Develop thresholds for levels considered  injurious to birds.  Consider service losses from affected birds.

7.  Evaluate existing toxicology literature regarding dietary hazardous substances in fish and other biotic sources to representative mammal species.  Compare to estimated concentrations in mammals and resulting service losses.

8.  Assess groundwater injury, including extent of injured tributaries and water streams within the river; define a timeframe to cease injury and recharge water streams.

9.  Estimate the value of lost and/or diminished recreational and subsistence fishing activities.

10.  Compile and evaluate information on additional non-fishing recreational activities in the vicinity of the Anacostia.

11.  Collect primary data for a study to determine scope and magnitude of losses to recreational and subsistence fishing due to the presence of hazardous substances  or specific resource injuries. A similar study will be done in non-fishing areas.

12.  Assess environmental justice issues in surrounding neighborhoods.  Describe the role of the River in the history of adjacent neighborhoods, and mechanisms that may have contributed to environmental injustice in such neighborhoods.  Consider restoration actions that address existing River conditions to benefit these communities.

Damage assessment will include the impact of trash in the Anacostia on Navy Yard recreation. Photo: Krista Schlyer

You may be able to help the scientists at work on the Anacostia River’s improvements to benefit the natural systems and human use of its resources.  Feel free to supply them with your information, experience, observations and thoughts.  There are many ways that this study can benefit from participation and comments of citizens.  If you are unable to make the system work to get your thoughts into the right hands, call Gretchen Mikeska, DOEE’s Anacostia Coordinator, at 202-603-0964.

Research will address recreation needs such as those at Diamond Teague
dock at Yards Park. Photo: Krista Schyler

Bill Matuszeski is a member of the Mayor’s Leadership Council for a Cleaner Anacostia River and the retired Director of the Chesapeake Bay Program.  He also serves on the Board of the Friends of the National Arboretum and on Citizen Advisory Committees for the Anacostia and the Chesapeake.