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Potomac Water Quality in the Washington Region



Summary

The assessment of water quality in the Potomac River shows that the Washington region’s huge investments in improving wastewater treatment over the past thirty years have yielded significant improvements, especially in our portion of the Potomac River. Among the success stories: the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus discharged by wastewater plants in the metropolitan Washington region has declined dramatically since the 1980s and is on track for further reductions. As a result, the potential for harmful algal blooms in the upper Potomac estuary has declined significantly. And the populations of at least some
of the plants and animals that live in this portion of the river, such as submerged aquatic vegetation and American shad, have rebounded. But these  mprovements do not mean that either the river itself has fully recovered from the poor conditions of previous decades nor that further efforts are unnecessary. As is the case in the Chesapeake Bay watershed as a whole, local governments and other entities are addressing other sources of pollution, such as runoff from farms and urban areas, and working to restore local streams, which, in turn, will benefit the river and the Bay.

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