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Taking out the Trash From our Rivers

DC Water is dedicated to keeping our local waterways clean and safe. We operate two skimmer boats that remove floating debris and trash that finds its way into the Potomac and Anacostia rivers. The skimmer boats have full-time crews and pick up trash and debris from over 15 miles of shoreline. They remove over 400 tons of floating debris and trash each year, making our rivers cleaner and safer for everyone, including their natural inhabitants—fish, waterfowl, amphibians, and aquatic plants.

DC Water also invested in restoring fabridams to reduce the amount of debris that reaches the waterways. Prior to the restoration of these dams, the DC Water skimmer boats were removing almost to 100 tons of debris every month- over three times the amount of trash our boats remove now. In addition, DC Water regularly cleans and maintains more than 25,000 catch basins, removing 23 tons of debris every day. Catch basins catch debris and litter before they can enter a storm drain.

DC Water has invested millions of dollars in our Clean Rivers Project to reduce combined-sewer overflows into our local waterways. This project combines sewer separations, construction of underground tunnels and green infrastructure to improve the health of our waterways.

You can help to reduce pollution in our local waterways by following these tips:

  • Don't throw trash and yard waste in neighborhood storm drains or catch basins—deposit them in the appropriate cans.
  • Don't throw trash on city streets or in alleys.
  • Report clogged storm drains or catch basins by calling the DC Water Emergency Line at 202-612-3400.

If we all work together to keep our rivers clean and protect our environment, we can make our waterways healthier and safer for everyone.