Anacostia River Watershed
Public Access to Data
In early 2000, NOAA and partners developed the first version of the
Anacostia River Watershed Database and Mapping Project. And in 2007,
NOAA made a significant contribution working with fourteen agency and interest
group partners to making agency data publicly accessible. The database and
mapping project, which compiles 35 datasets spanning nearly 20 years of
research, was updated and enhanced to include spatial data focusing on past,
current, and future restoration project sites within the watershed and made
publicly available on the Internet.
These data and other relevant data layers are served on an Internet Mapping
Server website along with an accompanying watershed Web Guide. In addition to
the mapping portal, the most recent Anacostia contaminant datasets are also
available for download. This tool helps level the playing field and puts local,
state, and federal agencies and citizen groups on the same footing—allowing all
to help identify priorities and make watershed management and restoration
decisions with web-accessible data.
In partnership with the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments and other
Anacostia Watershed Toxics Alliance partners, NOAA led the development of a
conceptual model for the fate and effects of contaminants and a plan for
addressing contaminated sediment hotspots, plus a broader plan to
address restoration and on-going contamination throughout the watershed.
NOAA helped conduct tidal river spatial analysis that identified six
contaminated sediment hotspots. NOAA and partners are pursuing
ways to address these hotspots for possible sediment remediation and/or source
With roughly $1.25 million (through a congressional appropriation to DC), NOAA
helped investigate contamination at DC-owned portions of Poplar Point, as
well as helped develop preliminary plans to restore tidal wetlands and preserve
existing non-tidal wetlands. In addition to a preliminary design
for tidal wetland creation, recent efforts include a Remedial Investigation
(including human health and ecological risk assessments) and Feasibility Study.
NOAA is also exploring partnerships for the daylighting of Stickfoot Creek,
restoration within the Stickfoot watershed, and treatment of stormwater with
partners such as the D.C. Department of Transportation.
NOAA is involved with helping assess and manage a number of hazardous wastes
sites along the river, including the Washington Navy Yard, Washington Gas &
Light (WG&L), and Kenilworth landfill. The NOAA assessment of riverine
contamination from WG&L was used as the basis for the government’s
negotiations with WG&L.
In partnership with the Maryland State Highway Administration, the
Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, Prince George’s County,
and EPA, NOAA spearheaded the engineering and design of the
Anacostia East Wetland Mitigation Project, ANA-11. The site covers
~54 acres along the eastern shore of the Anacostia River, just upstream of the
Washington, D.C. border. Approximately 25 acres of the site are being
considered as a wetland mitigation site for the Woodrow Wilson Bridge
Replacement Project. When completed, the site will have been transformed into a
tidal wetland consisting of a series of aquatic zones that will provide habitat
for fish and promote the growth of various wetland plant species. Construction
is scheduled to start in spring 2007. This project alone will increase
tidal wetlands by 20%.
Through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, NOAA funded the Metropolitan
Washington Council of Governments to complete surveys, design work, and two
small fish passage barrier removal projects on Beltsville
Agricultural Research Center property in the Northeast Branch of the Anacostia
NOAA is also a member of the restoration committee of the Anacostia Watershed
Restoration Partnership based at the Metropolitan Washington Council of
Governments, working to help identify, fund, and implement additional
NOAA funded and helped develop the Anacostia Watershed Trash Reduction Strategy
, one of the first strategies in the Chesapeake Bay region to focus solely
on preventing and reducing marine debris in the river and its tributaries. Key
objectives of the Anacostia Strategy are to—
Increase funding for trash reduction programs
Create and enhance regional partnerships/coordination
Improve regional outreach and measure citizen knowledge & behavior
Promote use of effective trash reduction technologies
Improve enforcement of illegal dumping laws
Increase trash monitoring data collection efforts
NOAA is a member of the trash committee of the Anacostia Watershed Restoration
Partnership at the Council of Governments (along with county and district
representatives and interest groups), which is working to implement the
priorities identified in the strategy to make the Anacostia trash-free by 2013.
In 2005, the NOAA Marine Debris Program supported the Anacostia Watershed
Society to enhance their existing River Habitat and Watershed Explorer
curricula to include information about how trash and marine debris directly
affect the Watts Branch subwatershed, the Anacostia River, the Potomac River,
and the Chesapeake Bay.
NOAA Marine Debris Program is funding and NOAA Anacostia Initiative is working
with the Alice Ferguson Foundation to create a regional trash outreach
strategy as part of the Potomac Trash Free by 2013 Summit.
For the last two years (2006-07), NOAA Marine Debris Program has provided
funding for the Alice Ferguson Foundation’s Annual Potomac Trash-Free by
2013 Summit. The Summit is chaired by Congressman Van Hollen, and
ORR’s CAPT Ken Barton provided opening remarks at the 2007 event held at the
NOAA Bay Watershed Education & Training (B-WET) Program provided funding and
technical assistance to K-12 schools and non-profit providers in the Anacostia
watershed. Specifically, NOAA has funded roughly eight local partners since
2005, which provide Anacostia watershed students with a meaningful watershed
NOAA Emerging Scientists Project (ESP) has run programs in 12 high schools and
provided approximately 25 Washington, D.C. high school teachers with the means
to bring oceanic and atmospheric sciences into their classroom. On board NOAA
ships based in the Chesapeake Bay, teachers conducted research and a wide range
of physical, chemical and biological sampling. Using new technologies, NOAA and
the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC) broadcast "live" into D.C.
classrooms from NOAA research cruises.
NOAA Marine-Debris funded the Anacostia Watershed Society to conduct
trash-focused classroom and field studies with elementary, middle, and high
school students in the Watts Branch area—one of the poorest and most
environmentally degraded subwatersheds.
In 2006, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments formed the Anacostia
Watershed Restoration Partnership (AWRP). This partnership comprises a
Leadership Council consisting of the Governor of the State of Maryland, the
Mayor of the District of Columbia, Prince George’s County Executive, Montgomery
County Executive, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers District Engineer, and the
EPA Region III Administrator.
Advising the Leadership Council and making the majority of funding and
prioritizing decisions is the Steering Committee, on which Pat
Montanio (Director, Office of Habitat Restoration, NMFS) sits, with Tom Brosnan
(Manager, Mid-Atlantic Branch, Assessment and Restoration Division, ORR, NOS)
serving as an alternate. Several NOAA staff also participate in various
subcommittees of the partnership, such as the restoration, contaminant, trash,
and management subcommittees.
NOAA is working with the AWRP to organize an Anacostia Workshop
in 2007 to build partnership capacity within the watershed among industry,
developers, landowners, residents, interest groups, and local, state, and
NOAA is coordinating with other Federal agencies to use the Anacostia as a pilot
project under the U.S. Ocean Action Plan. A task team formed under the
Subcommittee on Integrated Management of Ocean Resources (SIMOR) was
established with the goal of identifying tools for coordinating cleanup and
restoration of urban estuaries. As part of the SIMOR effort, NOAA is taking the
lead in organizing Federal Agency Anacostia Coordination Meetings
to ensure enhanced coordination on cleanup and restoration within the federal
family. Other Federal partners include U.S. EPA, USACE, USFWS, U.S. Federal
Highways, Navy, U.S. National Park Service, and the U.S. Geological Survey.