Celebrating the Clean Water Act as We Restore the Anacostia River

This is a guest post by Kellie Bolinder.

Kayakers, SUPers and boaters join together for a Clean Water Act celebration on the Potomac River. NWF Photo by Jan Goldman-Carter.
Restoring the Anacostia River here  means more than just clean water to the Earth Conservation Corps.  The heavily polluted Anacostia River flows through some of the most disadvantaged communities of the nation’s capitol. For over 20 years, the challenge and promise of restoring the Anacostia has been at the heart of our work to reclaim two of America’s most endangered resources — our youth and our environment.

Mike Bolinder, Anacostia Riverkeeper, speaks at the recent Clean Water Act rally on the Potomac River. NWF Photo by Jan Goldman-Carter.
Some folks along the Anacostia remember a time when they could swim in the river…and they are proud of the efforts of their children and grandchildren to reclaim it. Our history is inspiring. In 1992, a small group of unemployed youth from the Valley Green public housing community in Southeast Washington, D.C., volunteered to change their lives by restoring the Anacostia River. Motivated by the belief that their strong hearts, minds, and muscles could reclaim the Anacostia –America’s forgotten river — they banded together under an ambitious name, the Earth Conservation Corps. Since then, thousands of community leaders from the troubled neighborhoods near the Anacostia River have become  the cornerstone to the solution to the city’s twin problems of pollution and poverty.

Fast forward to 2012 and a beautiful September Saturday when ECC joined the National Wildlife Federation, Anacostia and Potomac Riverkeepers, and Water Keeper Alliance nationwide in honoring the 40th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act–and recommitting ourselves to clean rivers and clean water for all—here along the Anacostia and nationwide.

Since Congress passed the Clean Water Act in October 1972, we have made incredible progress in cleaning up our rivers and streams. The Potomac River is our source for drinking water and many people are using the Anacostia and Potomac rivers to canoe, kayak and fish.

But we have much more work to do to restore the streams and wetlands that flow through the District of Columbia and on to the Chesapeake Bay.  Please join the Earth Conservation Corps, the National Wildlife Federation, and our local, regional, and national clean water partners in celebrating the 40th birthday of the Clean Water Act and standing up for a strong Clean Water Act, and fishable swimmable waters for all.

Kellie Bolinder is Executive Director of Earth Conservation Corps. She has been working with the organization for over nine years. Earth Conservation Corps became the DC affiliate of the National Wildlife Federation in 2008, joining the network of 48 state and territorial affiliates across the country.