The “historic” reopening of the Anacostia River to swimmers has been canceled.
The nonprofit Anacostia Riverkeeper was hosting a free event, Splash, on July 8, inviting people to make a splash in the Anacostia River as it opened for swimming for the first time in 50 years.
However, heavy rain, which also led to minor sewage overflow, made conditions unsafe, leading to the event being canceled.
“Recently, we have had several intense short-duration rain events, which caused two small CSO discharges to the Anacostia River. Unfortunately, the Splash event needs to be postponed out of an abundance of caution,” Jeff Seltzer, deputy director of DOEE’s Natural Resources Administration, said in a press release.
In 1971, it became illegal to swim or wade in the Anacostia River as safety concerns were raised about the quality of the water, with it being considered “dirty and unhealthy,” largely due to stormwater and sewage overflow.
The Anacostia Riverkeepers were established in 2008 and have been working on environmental efforts to improve the water quality in the Anacostia River and other waterways across D.C. In 2018, the Anacostia RiverTunnel was created, and it has proceeded to reduce “sewage overflows into the river by 90%.”
“Despite the environmental issues still facing the Anacostia River, water quality has significantly improved over the past few decades. We are as close as we have ever been to the possibility of bringing back a swimmable Anacostia,” Riverkeeper’s President Suzy Kelly told ABC 7 prior to the cancellation.
There is no word on when the event will be rescheduled at this time.
For more information, please visit the Anacostia Riverkeepers website.