Public Policy & Advocacy

Our mission is to restore the Anacostia River and its tributaries to a swimmable and fishable state, in keeping with the Clean Water Act, for the health and enjoyment of everyone in the community. The main impediments to a healthy Anacostia River are stormwater runoff, bacteria, toxics and trash.

Safe to Swim or Fish in the Anacostia River?

AWS works toward making the Anacostia River Fishable and Swimmable. Are either of these activities safe yet? Is it safe to eat fish from the Anacostia River? Learn More


River Report Card

The State of the River report explores the impediments to a clean and healthy river by analyzing relevant data and assessing the public policy choices being made to restore the river. Learn More



Stormwater is the polluted runoff that results when rain falls on impervious surfaces; collects trash, bacteria, and toxins, and flows into storm drains, and straight into the Anacostia River and its tributaries. With a watershed that is 70% developed, the Anacostia is impacted by a huge amount of impervious surface. Reducing this impact is our single biggest challenge. Learn More


Fecal Bacteria is a major impediment to the river. Excessive amounts are unnatural and prevent a healthy, swimmable Anacostia. High concentrations come primarily from raw sewage. Both MD and DC are awaiting sufficient infrastructure to address this problem. Learn More



The Anacostia has a long history as a working port and industrial river, leaving a legacy of toxic pollution that impacts the health of aquatic life and humans that fish, swim, or otherwise recreate on the river. Learn More



The Anacostia River is so severely impacted by trash that in 2007 it was declared "impaired by trash" under the provisions of the Clean Water Act. There are many efforts to pick up trash manually or catch it with trash traps, but ultimately trash use needs to be reduced from the source. Learn More


History of Advocacy

AWS was founded in 1989 by Robert Boone.  He dubbed the Anacostia “the Forgotten River” due to the serious lack of attention compared to the Potomac. Robert Boone set out to make the sad condition of the Anacostia River well known to local advocates and elected officials. This triggered a remarkable 20-year run of advocacy and community partnerships that altered the region perceived the Anacostia. Learn More


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Upcoming Events

Heron thinking of beer

Watershed Wednesday

Happy Hour Jan 24

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