In the Washington metropolitan area, we are blessed with many streams and rivers. Two prominent rivers surround and define Washington, DC, the nation’s capital: the Potomac on the west side of the city, well-known, highly regarded, often mentioned in tourist descriptions of Washington; and, on the east side of the city, the Anacostia (also known historically as the Eastern Branch of the Potomac), but for political and historical reasons, little-known, hardly mentioned as a city amenity, and often regarded as the city’s backdoor and sewer conduit. The Anacostia is also a key part of the city’s social and racial ecology.
In many ways the Anacostia River has been the poster child for urban waterways and their associated populations that have been neglected, forgotten, and environmentally mistreated. But now we are taking charge and taking better care of the Anacostia. The Washington metropolitan area encompasses nearly 5.6 million residents with more than 600,000 persons in the District of Columbia alone. We are becoming more and more aware of how important a healthy Anacostia River is to the well-being of this region.