JUNE 2010

Maryland to limit trash dumping in the Anacostia

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the District of Columbia, and the state of Maryland announced a new Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) or “pollution diet” for trash in the Anacostia River. This makes the Anacostia only the second river in the country with a daily trash limit, and the first in the mid-Atlantic region.

Each year, hundreds of tons of trash and debris are washed into the Anacostia from stormwater runoff, not only creating a nuisance and an eyesore, but endangering birds, fish and other wildlife that ingest or become entangled in the debris.

The federal Clean Water Act directs states to develop “pollution diets” for impaired water bodies, such as the Anacostia River. A TMDL establishes the amount of a pollutant, in this case trash, that a water body can assimilate without exceeding water quality standards. TMDLs provide the basis for establishing water quality-based controls, reducing pollution from both point and nonpoint sources and restoring the quality of water resources.

The District and Maryland both included the Anacostia River on their respective list of impaired waters due to excessive quantities of trash and debris in 2006. To complement this TMDL, the District and Maryland are developing innovative storm water permits for municipalities.

The District Department of Environment, and Maryland Department of Environment along with members of several non-governmental organizations have worked collaboratively with EPA to develop this draft trash TMDL for the Anacostia River.