Hold on to your Brita: Potomac is nation’s “most endangered” river

Never underestimate the power of filtered water. In a recent report released by environmental watchdog organization American Rivers, the Potomac River is named number 1 on the list of America’s most endangered rivers of 2012. Five million residents rely on the Potomac for drinking water, and this designation is an attempt to push Congress to ensure that the river does not become too unsafe for public health.

According to American Rivers, the Potomac suffers from urban and agricultural pollution. The report says that the Potomac will eventually become unsafe for drinking water, marine life, and any sort of recreation. Urban development is one of the primary causes of this pollution.

The report demands that Congress stop rolling back regulations on the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. These organizations work to restore and protect bodies of water under the threat of severe pollution. The Clean Water Act, passed in 1972, is an environmental legislation geared to protecting fresh water, and American Rivers seeks to push Congress to end any bills or regulations hampering this Act.

Ed Merrifield, the Potomac Riverkeeper, said to the Washington Post that after the passage of the Clean Water Act, the quality of the river’s water went up but not drastically enough. “For years, we’ve been reading about the intersex in the fish, up to 80 percent in the places they’ve tested for it,” Merrifield said to the Post. “Yet there hasn’t been much of any action on this in Congress, and it’s very sad because all our drinking water comes from here. The best and safest drinking water comes from healthy rivers and streams.”

This is not the first time an environmental group has attacked the Potomac. Last November, the Potomac Conservancy released the annual State of the Nation’s River report and gave the Potomac a grade D in terms of pollution levels.

The Standell’s song “Dirty Water”, a tribute to the infamously dirty Boston’s Charles River, might need to be rewritten for the District of Columbia. ‘Cause Congress just loves that dirty water.

Photo by Abby Greene

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