Toward a Restored Anacostia Watershed
Like many urban rivers, the Anacostia and its tributaries
have been the victim of more than 300 years of abuse and neglect.
Covering 176 square miles of once beautiful land in Maryland
and the District of Columbia, the Anacostia watershed has
been extensively farmed and urbanized. These land-intensive
practices have taken a tremendous toll. Loss of habitat, erosion,
sedimentation, flooding, destruction of wetlands, channelization,
toxic pollution, decaying older communities and waterfront
areas and loss of river-based recreational opportunities such
as boating, fishing and swimming all characterize what had
become of the Anacostia River and much of its watershed.
began to change with a landmark agreement between Maryland
and the District of Columbia in 1984 that officially recognized
the need for restoration. A 1987 agreement added Montgomery
and Prince George's Counties into the restoration partnership.
In 1991, this partnership adopted, through its "Six-Point
Action Plan," six broad-sweeping goals designed to restore
the Anacostia River and its tributaries. Through this partnership
and with the indispensable assistance of the U.S. Army Corps
of Engineers, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National
Park Service and the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning
Commission, significant progress has been made toward all
six goals. However, far less would have been achieved without
the dedication of the community-based groups who have both
galvanized support and effectively mobilized the watershed's
citizenry in the restoration effort.
much has been accomplished, the restoration is far from complete.
Tremendous challenges and opportunities await. The partnership
needs to be strengthened. Funding commitments need to be reaffirmed
and continued. With a growing human population, more resources
will be required for the protection, restoration and management
of the watershed's natural resources. Additional resources
are needed to continue the economic revitalization and environmental
restoration of the watershed's older communities. Reconnecting
the watershed's citizens to the river and its tributaries
also remains a challenge. Finally, greater effort is needed
to enlist both the community and private businesses in the
we approach the 21st century the river and its tributaries
must once again become a focal point for the watershed's communities,
schools, churches and private businesses. The larger goal
of a restored Anacostia watershed is achievable. The vision
encompasses a watershed that supports a clean, healthy river
system, is economically vibrant, and is a desirable place
to live, work and recreate in.
attainment of these goals and objectives can, however, only
be realized through a sustained major commitment on the part
of government, citizens and private businesses. Therefore:
over the last three hundred years, the Anacostia watershed
has been extensively logged, farmed, mined and urbanized resulting
in a major decline in water quality and habitat; and
beginning in 1984 Maryland and the District of Columbia officially
recognized the need for restoration, leading in 1987 to the
landmark "Anacostia Watershed Restoration Agreement"
which both expanded the membership to include Montgomery and
Prince George's Counties and resulted in the formation of
the Anacostia Watershed Restoration Committee; and
through the 1991 Anacostia Watershed Restoration Agreement
the Anacostia Watershed Restoration Committee developed "A
Six-Point Action Plan to Restore the Anacostia River"
which set forth specific watershed restoration goals and implementation
strategies through a unique cooperative local/state, federal
and grass-roots partnership; and
since 1987 over $100 million dollars have been spent restoring
the Anacostia watershed resulting in the reduction of storm
flows and associated pollutants from nearly 10 square miles
of developed area, the restoration of degraded habitat in
over eight miles of stream, the restoration of 32 acres of
tidal wetland and the creation of approximately 100 acres
of non- tidal wetland, acquisition of over 300 acres of stream
valley parkland for the protection of sensitive aquatic resources,
riparian buffer reforestation of nearly 10 linear stream miles
and the support for and participation in the restoration effort
on the part of both private businesses and thousands of the
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Signatories reaffirm
their commitment to continue to work toward completing the
restoration of the Anacostia watershed through the pursuit
of the following interim 1999-2000 restoration goals and targets:
Anacostia Watershed Restoration Goals and
Interim Targets for the Period 1999-2000
Goal #1: Dramatically reduce pollutant loads, such as sediment,
toxics, CSOs, other nonpoint inputs and trash, delivered to
the tidal river and its tributaries to meet water quality
standards and goals.
Reduce stormwater related impacts through the control of runoff
by stormwater retrofitting 400 additional acres of existing
developed area within the watershed by the year 2000.
Develop a short and long-term plan for effectively reducing
the occurrence of CSO events from the District of Columbia's
combined sewer system by the year 2000.
Develop a comprehensive trash and floatables reduction strategy
for the river and its tributaries, which includes an actual
demonstration of a promising trash reduction system(s) by
the year 2000.
Work toward a more coordinated effort for routinely monitoring
physical, chemical and biological conditions in the watershed
necessary to accurately measure restoration progress and protect
human health and aquatic life.
Goal #2: Protect and restore the ecological integrity of the
Anacostia River and its streams to enhance aquatic diversity,
increase recreational use and provide for a quality urban
Protect ecologically sensitive headwater tributaries and targeted
stream reaches within the watershed through the use of zoning
and master planning tools and techniques, stream valley park
acquisition, special protection area designations, and other
appropriate watershed management approaches.
Restore physical aquatic habitat in an additional two miles
of degraded tributaries by the year 2000.
Continue to support interagency efforts to protect and restore
Paint Branch's unique brown trout fishery.
Expand and improve recreational fishing opportunities for
anglers, of all ages, throughout the watershed.
Continue to support efforts which expand recreational use
in the watershed and increase direct access to the river.
#3: Restore the natural range of resident and anadromous fish
to historical limits.
By the year 2000, open up an additional two miles of the tributary
system to anadromous and resident fish.
Support annual monitoring of anadromous fish runs in the tributary
system by the year 2000.
Complete a watershed-wide inventory of existing fish barriers
by the end of 1999; develop an action plan for the modification
or removal of designated key blockages by the year 2000.
#4: Increase the natural filtering capacity and habitat diversity
of the watershed by sharply increasing the acreage and quality
of tidal and non-tidal wetlands.
Permit no additional net loss of existing non-tidal or tidal
wetland acreage within the watershed.
Restore and/or create an additional 41 acres of tidal wetland
by the year 2000.
Develop five new non-tidal wetland projects for wildlife habitat
by the year 2000.
Expand watershed monitoring efforts to include wetland areas
and their associated wildlife.
#5: Protect and expand forest cover throughout the watershed
and create a continuous riparian forest buffer adjacent to
its streams, wetlands and river.
Develop a watershed-wide green infrastructure plan which integrates
both passive recreation with the protection of open space
areas, including remaining large stands of forest, by the
Reforest one additional mile of stream corridor by the year
Continue to encourage and assist private landowners in the
watershed to both protect existing woodland and reforest their
#6: Increase citizen and private business awareness of their
vital role in both the cleanup and economic revitalization
of the watershed, and increase volunteer and public-private
partnership participation in watershed restoration activities.
In cooperation with the Anacostia River Business Coalition
(ARBC), continue to pursue restoration support and implementation
opportunities with the private sector.
Continue to support and expand the exposure and participation
of the watershed's citizenry in the restoration effort through
the Anacostia Watershed Citizen's Advisory Committee.
Continue to encourage the creation of watershed-based environmental
curricula, with associated community service, for all Anacostia
Expand efforts to enlist environmental groups, universities,
private businesses and citizens in restoration-related activities
such as stream monitoring, cleanups, tree plantings, etc.
Encourage community-based advocacy support and environmental
education programs for the river and all of its major tributaries.
Expand and integrate monitoring and reporting efforts to more
effectively evaluate and share restoration progress with the
public and elected officials.
Continue to support and expand efforts which lead to both
economic revitalization and environmental improvement of the
watershed's older communities.
It Also Resolved that the Signatories will finalize, through
a public participation process, a suite of specific, long-term
restoration indicators and targets by mid-year 2000, and that
they pledge to continue implementation of a basin-wide strategy
to equitably achieve the six fundamental goals and associated
targets by the year 2010.
Signatories Further Affirm that beginning on or about
Earth Day in the year 2000, and biennially thereafter, they
will reconvene to assess progress, provide general direction
and examine the needs and means to further the goals of the
this tenth day of May in the year 1999: