Potomac News Reservoir

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News from Around the Basin – April 18, 2024

Webinar on Data Centers & Solar, watershed moments, White’s ferry tale saga continues, and more, in this week’s Potomac News Reservoir – April 18, 2024 >>>

ICPRB Webinar: Water Resources Impacts of Data Centers and Solar Fields and Tools to Mitigate Impacts

Interested in the intersection of data centers, solar fields, and water resources in the Potomac River watershed? Join ICPRB for a webinar on Friday, May 10 at noon to learn about the water resources impacts of data centers and solar fields in the Potomac watershed. We’ll also discuss tools to mitigate and prevent those impacts. The panel will feature speakers from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District, and Loudoun Water.

This event is being held as part of the implementation of the Potomac River Basin Comprehensive Water Resources Plan.

Watershed moments – what to celebrate this week

Earth Day is Monday, April 22. One impetus for the national push for a this day to inspire environmental action was Silent Spring, a groundbreaking book which linked pollution to real impacts to both the environment and human health. The book was written by biologist and writer Rachel Carson, a resident of the Potomac River basin.

Looking for ways to celebrate? Here are just a few of many options:

ICPRB in the Community

Below is a list of upcoming events ICPRB is producing or attending. We hope to see you there!

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News From Around the Basin – April 4, 2024

Welcoming ICPRB interns, status of the Shenandoah, rockfish in limbo, and more, in this week’s Potomac News Reservoir – April 4, 2024 >>>

Welcoming ICPRB’s 2024 Interns

Nusrat Noor will be joining ICPRB remotely from her home base of Durham, NC where she is working on her Master of Environmental Management at Duke University. She has experience curating and cataloging large collections of aquatic and marine invertebrates at both the Auburn University Museum of Natural History and the Florida Museum of Natural History.

At ICPRB, Ms. Noor will be working closely with the CO-OP team to retrieve and analyze remotely sensed water storage data from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) to improve hydrological modeling and forecasting during low flows in the Potomac basin. She is also working to make historic, handwritten water quality datasets held by ICPRB available in electronic format.

Nusrat is originally from Florida and currently lives with her two cats. She enjoys hiking, crocheting, and buying toys for her cats that they never use.


Risa Fish hails from Phoenix, Arizona, where she advocated for clean water and sanitation practices for an organization conducting water projects in Cusco, Peru. She also conducted research and educated the public on water conservation at the Water Conservation Department of the City of Chandler. Already holding a Bachelor of Science in Public Service and Public Policy (Sustainability) from Arizona State University, Ms. Fish is now working on her Master of Science in Environment and Sustainability Management at Georgetown University, where she expects to graduate this summer. She hopes to remain in the DMV area post-graduation as she has loved living on the East Coast.

During her internship at ICPRB, she will be working on a Spatial Statistical Network modeling project as well as making improvements to our water quality data inventory. As a self-proclaimed “water nerd” she is eager to continue to expand her expertise in the water field and is looking forward to the experiences ICPRB can provide her with.

This is ICPRB’s third year since starting the internship program that educates and encourages future water resources professionals. Check out our YouTube page to see the great work of previous interns.

One Down, Many More to Come

Thank you to our guides, Paul Kreingold and Jon Wolz, and everyone that joined us for our first Walk in the Woods of 2024. We learned the fascinating history of the quarry along the Potomac that supplied the statuesque columns for Statuary Hall in the Capitol. See pictures of our walk (and Potomac marble!) on Facebook.

Sign up for a future Walk in the Woods on our Eventbrite page > > >

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News From Around the Basin – March 28, 2024

Still time to sign up for Saturday’s hike, a DC parks quest, sayonara Stumpy, and more, in this week’s Potomac News Reservoir – March 28, 2024 > > >

Sign up for Saturday’s Walk in the Woods

Did you miss your chance to register for Saturday’s *sold out* Walk in the Woods: Potomac Marble near Dickerson, MD? Don’t worry, we’ve got a spot for you. If you would like to join us for this 5-mile guided trek to discover the stone that rebuilt Washington, D.C., we’re extending extra spots to anyone signed up for our newsletter. The event is free to attend, but we ask that you register by responding to this email.

Can’t make it? Join us on a future Walk in the Woods, including the newly added Walk in the Woods: Mussel Power with Anacostia Watershed Society on May 18.

Working Towards a Resilient Water Supply System

Last week, ICPRB staff joined the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), DC Homeland Security Emergency Management Agency (HSEMA), and the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) for a tabletop exercise to review — and improve — our collective response to a hypothetical threat to our water supply system.

ICPRB staff utilized our Emergency River Spill Model to support the exercise scenario, and discussed spill notification, modeling, and communication protocols. Events like these are important for building processes and relationships for a more efficient and effective response to emergency situations.

Read the full CISA press release here > > >

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Media from around the basin – February 29, 2024

Where to find ICPRB this year, VA out of drought, the stories of the first all-Black rowing team and the first Black yacht club, and more in this week’s Potomac News Reservoir – Feb. 29, 2024 >>>

ICPRB in the Community

Our dance card is getting full for 2024! Check out several upcoming events where you’ll find ICPRB staff:

We’ll be adding more fun and informative events throughout the year. We also plan to bring our creek critter meet and greet to the Earth Day Celebration (April 20, Frederick, MD), Anacostia River Festival (May 4, DC), Festival del Rio Anacostia (September 21, DC), and many more! Stay tuned by checking out ICPRB Events on our website.

ICPRB Q2 Business Meeting will be on March 12, 2024

ICPRB will hold the second quarter business meeting on Tuesday, March 12, 2024. Commissioners will learn about computer models used to predict water quality endpoints and discuss the adoption of the 2023 updates to the Potomac Basin Comprehensive Water Resources Plan. The public is invited to view the virtual meeting. Please respond to this email for more information on how to attend.

Correction Notice

Editor’s Note: Last week’s newsletter included the news article Virginia Introduces Amended Virginia Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Permit to Protect Chesapeake Bay. We were subsequently informed that information found in the article is not accurate. We regret the error.

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News from around the basin – Feb. 8, 2024

Protecting our drinking water, the history of a Potomac island, funding for tree planting in underserved communities, and more, in this week’s Potomac News Reservoir – Feb. 8, 2024 >>>

Protecting our Drinking Water

Cover page to the DWSPP Annual Report - 2023In water-sector jargon, source water protection means protecting or improving the quality of water before it reaches the water treatment plant. Better water quality going into the plant means better water quality at your tap.

One organization addressing source water protection in the region is the Potomac River Basin Drinking Water Source Protection Partnership (DWSPP). Coordinated by ICPRB, this voluntary coalition of government agencies and water suppliers work together to address source water protection in the Potomac River watershed. Learn about their work addressing PFAS, conducting spill exercises, tracking permits, and addressing the winter salt issue in DWSPP’s recently published 2023 Annual Report.

Click here to read DWSPP’s 2023 Annual Report >>>



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News from Around the Basin – February 1, 2024

How road salt affects waterways, local history, drought advisories lifted, and more, in this week’s Potomac News Reservoir – Feb. 1, 2024 > > >

River Report

Impacts from the recent winter weather have been reflected in the river’s flow, reaching as high as 8 times the median for this time of year (as seen in the graph from the USGS Point of Rocks gage).

Temperatures dipped, creating icy conditions and interfering with gage functionality (the vertical blue line).

The temperature swings turned the weather from snowstorms to rainstorms. What happened to the winter salt during all that rain? If it wasn’t swept up, it was swept away into our rivers and streams.

The salty stormwater is dangerous for the critters that live in the creek, is destructive to infrastructure, and pollutes our drinking water. We were glad to see this important water quality issue widely covered in the news (WUSA9, WTOP, FOX5).

Wisconsin celebrated Winter Salt Awareness Week last week with a series of short webinars on the different aspects of winter salt impacts, including an environmental justice component, ecological consequences, and how to reduce our winter salt use.

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News from around the Basin – January 11, 2024

New sewer tunnels are working but others aren’t meeting their deadline, US Navy agrees to env. permit, calls for using less winter salt, and more, in this week’s Potomac News Reservoir – Jan. 11, 2024 >>>

River Report

Graph of adjustd flow at Little Falls showing a spike in flow.

After one of our driest summers on record, we have now received greater than 75% above average rainfall for the year. You’ll see in the graph that the adjusted flow at Little Falls (black line) has shot out of the 90th percentile range. However, we are only 11 days into that year.

Our drought conditions have improved, but are still sticking around. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, 42% of the basin is in Abnormally Drought and 18% is in Moderate Drought conditions.

More rain is in the forecast for the next 3 days, which could result in more flooding, according to the National Weather Service.

Please be safe during flooding conditions. Don’t put your life, your passenger’s life, or first responders in danger. If you see a flooded street, turn around, don’t drown. WUSA9 provides additional tips to help protect your property from flooding.

Agriculture in the Watershed

Join us at noon on January 19 to learn about water quality impacts from agricultural land use in the Potomac basin and what funding opportunities are available to mitigate them.

Click here to sign up >>>

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News from Around the Basin – July 12, 2023

Finding the source of pollution and those working to fix it, learning to fish, understanding groundwater, and more, in this week’s Potomac News Reservoir.

Exploring Groundwater in the Chesapeake Bay

As the saying goes, “We can’t manage what we can’t measure.” ICPRB’s water resources scientist, Dr. Alimatou Seck, recently published a paper in Hydrogeology Journal that demonstrated the successful use of a large-scale integrated hydrologic model to evaluate groundwater storage dynamics in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Understanding groundwater dynamics is an important piece of the Bay restoration puzzle.

Potomac River Conditions

The USGS graph showing the current flow flush with the median flow at Point of Rocks is only telling part of the story. The northern half of Maryland has been placed under a Drought Watch due to low groundwater levels. The gap between current precipitation and the average precipitation is shrinking, but not very quickly. Much of the basin continues to be in moderate or severe drought status, according to the National Drought Mitigation Center.

Current flow: 3410 cfs

Median flow: 3410 cfs

90 day precipitation: -2.0 inches

Fishing is the new Pickleball

Maybe it is only a coincidence that a bass rod is 6 feet long, but in 2020, the 6-feet social distancing recommendations led many people to try their hand at fishing. That year found a record number of anglers on the water.

The trend continues. According to the recent Special Report on Fishing from the Outdoor Foundation and the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation, 54.5 million people cast a rod in 2022. Last year saw a record number of female anglers, especially new participants. Additionally, over the last decade, Hispanic participation has increased by 45%.

If you want your kids or grandkids to enjoy the sport, start them young. According to the report, 86% of current anglers started fishing before they were 12 years old.

So, maybe you’re ready to put down that pickleball paddle and pick up a fishing pole? Here are some options to learn the craft in the Potomac watershed:

If you are just looking for a new place to catch the “BIG FISH” 🐟, offers a map of local places to fish and boat.

Don’t forget to check out our weekly Fishing News from Around the Basin at the bottom of the newsletter for the latest news and information about fishing in the Potomac River watershed.

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News from Around the Basin – June 29, 2023

Click here to see the full Potomac News Reservoir – June 29, 2023.

Celebrating Safely

Many people will grab their boat, kayak, or paddleboard during this long weekend to spend time relaxing on the water. Here are a few tips to keep you safe:

⛈️ Check water levels and the weather before heading out.

📢 Let someone know your plans.

🦺 Wear a lifejacket.

👀 Avoid suspect water.

Safety is important both on and off the water. Drought conditions and elevated fire risks throughout the basin have officials urging everyone to think twice about their pyrotechnics display. Fireworks start over 19,000 fires each year. To keep from being part of the 2023 statistics, please leave the fireworks to the professionals.

From all of us at ICPRB, we hope you have a safe and happy 4th of July!

Potomac River Conditions

When it rains, it pours. Literally. The Potomac watershed received an average of 1.8 inches of rain since last week’s newsletter, with the most rain seen in the southern reaches of the watershed. The river flow at Point or Rocks quickly surpassed the median flow. The river’s flashiness is on display once again, as the yellow peak heads south.

Even with all the rain, the Potomac watershed is still 3.1 inches below the 3-month average. As the NWS Mid Atlantic River Forecast Center map shows, precipitation averages are low across the Chesapeake Bay. At least there was a perk to our dry spring, a smaller dead zone in the Bay. (Graph: USGS Gage at Point of Rocks)

Current flow: 6440 cfs

Median flow: 4460 cfs

90 Day Precipitation: 3.1 inches below average

Reminder: We’re Hiring!

Applications are due tomorrow for the Outreach Program Manager position, so get those resumes in soon!

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Media From Around the Basin – May 4, 2023

Click here to see the full Potomac News Reservoir – May 4, 2023

PFAS Monitoring in the Potomac River Basin

Have you seen PFAS mentioned in the news lately? PFAS, dubbed “forever chemicals”,  are per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances found in food packaging, non-stick cookware, waterproof clothing, and many other items we use on a daily basis. The chemicals are linked to negative human health impacts, including cancer, fertility issues, and immune-system changes. Due to their pervasiveness and prevalence, they can be found in our food, drinking water, and even the air we breathe.

Screenshot of Map of monitoring locations in the Potomac Basin. As the science and regulatory landscapes around PFAS are quickly changing, government agencies and water utilities are closely tracking the situation. Recently, ICPRB worked with members of the Potomac River Basin Drinking Water Source Protection Partnership (DWSPP) to develop an interactive map featuring PFAS sampling locations in the basin. The webpage, PFAS in the Potomac Basin, includes a review of federal regulations and the regulatory status of PFAS in each state in the basin—Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. The map is not comprehensive, but a starting point for tracking monitoring in the region. It will be updated as more data is gathered.

Learn more about PFAS in the Potomac Basin > > >

The U.S. EPA has a website dedicated to PFAS information. Potomac-focused information can be found in the presentations and videos from ICPRB’s 2022 Potomac Conference: A Conversation on PFAS.

Fishing Reports

Spring is the air and that means many people will be throwing a line in the water. Find fishing reports and other fish-focused news at the bottom of the newsletter.

ICPRB in the Community

WEBINAR: Innovations in Sustainable Agriculture (May 12, Virtual)

Anacostia River Festival (May 20, Washington, D.C.)

Find these and other events around the Potomac watershed on our Events Calendar.