Bank deposits in the District of Columbia contined to grow at a rapid annual rate of 17 percent in the past 12 months, although total deposits at 17 city institutions on March 31 were below the record $5.85 billion at the end of 1978.

According to a Washington Post survey, D.C. deposits were $5.83 billion on March 31 compared with $4.96 billion a year earlier and $4.3 billion two years ago. The 17 percent year-to-year growth rate matches that of the boom years in the 1960s and is the most rapid rate of expansion since that time.

The actual decline in deposits in the first three months of the year is a normal seasonal trend, partially reflecting money withdrawn for tax payments.

American Security Bank showed the largest dollar gain and fastest growth rate for the city's large banks in the past 12 months, up $380 million, or about 30 percent, to $1.65 billion. No. 1 Riggs National reported an increase of about $280 million to $2.03 billion. National Savings & Trust Co., ranked fifth in size, also posted an above-average gain of $80 million, or more than 20 percent, to $429 million.

United National, a black-owned bank, showed a sharp gain in deposits over the past year of more than 45 percent to $59 million. Deposits at Hempishere National, owned by Spanish Americans, jumped more than 75 percent to $16 million. But deposits fell at several minority-owned institutions-Industrial Bank, Diplomat National and American Indian National. Women's National, with $5.2 million of deposits, is in its initial business year.