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Are You Grossed Out by the Anacostia River?

The Anacostia River has been known as a polluted and unappealing eight-mile waterway. But lately, the river’s image is changing with new structures nearby like the Washington Nationals baseball stadium, offices, and luxury condos.

In the days of Captain John Smith, the Anacostia river included 2,500 acres of tidal wetlands, compared to only 120 acres today.  People often find garbage in the river, which contributes to the negative image. Plus, DC Water and Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) continue to spill raw sewage in the river, especially during heavy rain. But now, there are remediation measures in place to stop the leaks and clean the water. 

It’s still not safe to fish or swim in the river, but Anacostia Trails Heritage Area (ATHA) has been rebranding the Anacostia River as a great spot for outdoor recreation. There is a 12-mile trail along the river that attracts bicyclists and runners. Kayakers are drawn to the river and can make use of the new Ballpark Boathouse for kayak rentals.

James Foster, president of the Anacostia Watershed Society, says, “We want the Anacostia to become the destination that L’Enfant envisioned.  We want it to be the focal point of Washington, DC.”

Michael Stevens, president of Capitol Riverfront Business Improvement District (BID), promotes the area around the Anacostia river for waterfront urban living.  “We envision a high-density, mixed-use, transit-oriented neighborhood that takes advantage of our riverfront and the access provided through Yards Park and the Riverwalk trail system. ...People can live, work, play, stay, recreate here and shop.” 

The parks in the area provide a gathering place for residents, employees and visitors. Yards Park features live concerts on Friday nights. Canal Park is another nearby recreation spot with an ice skating rink set to reopen this fall. The federally-funded National Arboretum and Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens are also great natural places to visit near the river. Plus, Buzzard Point, also along the river, may become the location of a new soccer stadium for DC United.

Check out the new developments and recreation options around the Anacostia River!

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