- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 21, 2004


The cleanup of the Anacostia River — one of nation’s dirtiest — took a big step forward yesterday.

The D.C. Water and Sewer Authority (WASA) broke ground on a new pumping station, which is part of a $1.3 billion project to keep raw sewage out of the river.

The pump station “will help make sure storm water and sewage water will make it to the Blue Plains Wastewater Treatment Plant, rather than being dumped in the Anacostia River,” said Jerry Johnson, general manager of WASA.

He said the pumping station will reduce the amount of sewage going into the river by 40 percent. The station is scheduled to be completed in August 2006.

“That’s a great milestone for our efforts,” said Robert Boone, president of the Anacostia Watershed Society, which filed a lawsuit against WASA in October 1999 for violating the federal Clean Water Act.

Mr. Boone wielded a shovel alongside Mr. Johnson and Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District’s nonvoting congressional representative.

Mrs. Norton helped secure $80 million from Congress toward the project. She said she resented having to fight for the funds, given that the Capitol complex contributes to the sewage overflow problems.

“The reason I think Congress should be in this up to the waist is the Anacostia flows within 2,000 yards of the dome of the Capitol,” Mrs. Norton said.

Mrs. Norton said the Anacostia should have been cleaned up with the Potomac River 30 years ago, adding that the Anacostia trades waters with the Potomac and the Chesapeake Bay.

Mr. Johnson said about one-third of the city, including Capitol Hill, is served by pipes built before the early 1900s that combine sewer water with storm drainage water. When heavy rains or water usage fills the pipes, it triggers the opening of the gates along the Anacostia, discharging the water.

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