I am appalled at the disregard the government and residents of the District exhibit toward the Potomac River. After a recent rain shower, a friend and I took a stroll along the river past the Kennedy Center. We saw what appeared to be an enormous oil slick with garbage of all types gushing into the river from culverts. This garbage poured out and across the river to Theodore Roosevelt Island and then flowed toward Chesapeake Bay.

Fortunately, this problem can be fixed easily: The city could install netting at the point where these drains meet the river. Nets could be fitted to the culverts so that they would not pose significant risk to the fish and other animals, and they could be drawn in and emptied into appropriate containers for proper disposal. The nets would allow the water to flow freely, only trapping the floating trash that covers the river after each rainfall. Adequate and frequent emptying of the nets would ensure that the rain gutters do not back up into the streets.

After the Exxon Valdez oil spill, concerned citizens joined the cleanup, yet we allow a river in the capital of the United States to suffer a flow of horribly heavy pollution.

MICHAEL S. GARRETT

Washington