American Rivers has listed the Potomac as “America’s No. 1 Most Endangered River for 2012” in its annual listing of waterways faced by threats.
“While the Potomac River is cleaner than it used to be, pollution is still a serious problem -– and it could get much worse if Congress rolls back critical clean water safeguards,” the environmental group wrote on its website. “As we commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Clean Water Act this year, the Potomac -– known as ‘the nation’s river’ as it flows by the capital -- is emblematic of what’s at stake for rivers nationwide.”
In December 2010, EPA created pollution limits (called the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load) to force a roughly 25 percent reduction in nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment pollution pouring into the Bay by 2025. The Bay area states drew up plans to meet those limits. But the American Farm Bureau, The Fertilizer Institute, National Association of Home Builders and other special interest groups have sued to overturn these pollution limits. And their allies in the U.S. House of Representatives have been seeking legislation to weaken EPA and clean water protections.
“Saving the Potomac, the Chesapeake Bay, and restoring clean water will not just benefit us, it will benefit our children and future generations,” said Will Baker, President of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. “If progress is not made we will continue to have polluted water, human health hazards, and lost jobs -– at a huge cost to society. Cleaning up our rivers and streams will bring back fish, crabs, and oysters. Economic studies, as well as recent experience, have shown that sound environmental policies and a strong economy are two sides of the same coin.”
To learn more, read this report from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and read the full American Rivers report here.
By Tom Pelton
Chesapeake Bay Foundation
(Photo of Potomac River from Chesapeake Bay Program)