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Water: Nonpoint Source Success Stories

District of Columbia (Section 319I - 1994)

The District of Columbia's Nonpoint Source Management Program focuses on urban NPS pollution such as nutrients, sediments, toxics, and bacteria entering its surface and groundwaters. The program sponsors a variety of activities, including educational programs and materials, and demonstration projects of new NPS control technologies.

Educational Project Brings Understanding of Urban NPS

The problem of managing nonpoint source pollution in an urban area calls for a creative solution. By pooling - resources and using section 319 funds, the District of Columbia was able to develop an innovative education - resources center and a model that brings attention to the NPS problem and how to prevent it. The Anacostia River, which flows through the nation's capital, has long suffered from neglect and pollution. In 1993, the American Rivers, a conservation group, named the river among the nation's most threatened. In addition, the Chesapeake Bay Program's executive council recently designated the Anacostia as a toxic hot spot.

To draw attention to the problem, in April 1992 the District of Columbia dedicated an Aquatic Resources Education Center (AREC), the nation's first serving a totally urban population. Located on the river's bank in Anacostia Park, the center offers fishing clinics and aquatic education programs to students and city residents. From April to September, 6,685 guests -- including then President George Bush, Mayor Sharon Pratt Kelly, Maryland Governor Donald Schaefer, and D. C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes-Norton--visited the center. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the District of - Columbia government provided the funds to renovate the former National Park Police substation, donated by the National Park Service.

Under the D.C. NPS Management Program, $60,000 funded through section 319 was used to develop a clean water demonstration project at the center. The urban BMP, a sand filter stormwater management facility constructed under an adjacent parking lot, highlights urban nonpoint source pollution problems and solutions. It removes oil, grit, and other suspended solids from parking lot stormwater runoff in urban conditions, such as limited space and high land cost.

Through a memorandum of understanding, the D.C. NPS Management Program and the D.C. Fisheries Management Program, which runs the center, are conducting NPS educational activities. Using $10,000 of section 319 funds, the University of the District of Columbia built a model of the sand filter for the center. The 6 by 2 by 3-foot acrylic model shows visitors how the filter operates. Students, teachers, fishers, and others can see how everyday activities, such as driving a car or - discarding trash, contribute to the Anacostia's pollution. The model and accompanying literature--a flier written by D.C. NPS staff--show a direct link between stormwater runoff and river pollution.

Few youngsters can connect the drops of oil on a parking lot or the improper disposal of a soft drink cup to the water quality problems of a distant waterbody. But the link between the parking lot and NPS facility and the nearby river is easy to see. Also, incorporating this information into fishing clinic curricula and other educational activities provides yet another connection between water quality, aquatic organisms, and NPS pollution. In addition to education, the project also focuses on prevention. The D.C. NPS Management Program continues to encourage both educators and other NPS professionals to use the BMP model and the center as a demonstration site. Section 319 funds and staff coordination were crucial in taking advantage of this unique educational opportunity and will benefit environmental education in the District of Columbia for a long time to come.


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