A girl cleans up trash from the shore of the Potomac River last year on Theodore Roosevelt Island in Washington. (Photo: Potomac Conservancy)

What is one thing humans can’t live without? Water! All over the world, people rely on rivers and other waterways to stay hydrated and healthy. But humans have taken advantage of waterways by polluting them and not giving them proper care.

The Washington area’s two rivers — the Potomac and the Anacostia — have seen tough times. In 2007, a local conservation group gave the Potomac a grade of D-plus for its health, including its water quality, fish and amount of pollution. In the past 10 years, communities have worked together to pick up waste on the Potomac’s shores and create a healthy river for wildlife and humans alike. Today, the Potomac has a B rating.

The Anacostia, which flows from Maryland into Washington, is failing. Last year, it received an F on its report card from the Anacostia Watershed Society. It is loaded with trash, bacteria and materials that harm fish and people.

With more cleanup and care, fish will be healthier, and people may be able to swim in the rivers. With Earth Day coming up April 22, there are plenty of opportunities to have fun while improving the quality of our rivers. Check out these Earth Day events in the Washington area. It is not too late to sign up and volunteer.

Paddle the Channel — Green the Wharf D.C.

Want a fun way to clean up? How about by kayak? At the Wharf, you can rent a kayak or use nets to fish out trash from the Potomac River. It’s not too late to register and reserve a kayak. The event will start with a short training session before you hit the water. Trash bags and gloves will be provided.

When: Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m.

Where: 600 Water Street, Southwest Washington.

How much: Rental is $16 an hour for a one-person kayak, $22 an hour for a two-person kayak.

Register: wapo.st/wharfearthday.


High tide hides trash in the Anacostia. Cleanup crews want the river to look like this all the time. (Photo: Linda Davidson/Washington Post)
Anacostia Watershed Society Earth Day Cleanup

The Anacostia Watershed Society is hosting a large cleanup in more than 40 locations throughout the District and Maryland. Those who register will receive a free T-shirt to wear while making the river a better place. After each cleanup, there will be a celebration with refreshments and snacks. If you want to attend the cleanup in Riverdale, the information is below. Otherwise, when you register, there is a map and a list of locations to choose from.

When: Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon.

Where: 5671 Tanglewood Drive, Riverdale, Maryland.

Register: wapo.st/anacostiacleanup.


Volunteers with the trash they collected at the Anacostia Watershed Society’s 2017 Earth Day Cleanup. (Photo: Anacostia Watershed Society)
Potomac River Cleanup at Columbia Island

The Potomac Conservancy is asking you to get your hands dirty for cleaner water. The group is organizing a cleanup of Columbia Island, also called Lady Bird Johnson Park. The island is home to two memorials, the Lyndon Baines Johnson Memorial Grove and the Navy-Merchant Marine Memorial. After cleanup, a special treat will be provided.

When: April 28 from 9 a.m. to noon.

Where: Lyndon Baines Johnson Memorial Grove off George Washington Memorial Parkway, Washington.

Register: wapo.st/columbiaislandclean
up
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