Potomac News Reservoir

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News From Around the Basin – June 20, 2024

New NOAA rapid onset drought prediction 🌊 tool, urban swimming 🏊‍♀️trend, 💩-powered buses, and more, in this week’s Potomac News Reservoir – June 20, 2024 >>>

Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin Newsletter — June 20, 2024

River Report – New NOAA Rapid Onset Drought Prediction Tool

You might have noticed it’s hot outside. According to the new NOAA Climate Prediction Center, which just became live last month, the excessive heat may lead to a regional rapid onset drought. Also known as a flash drought, these events are tied to extreme temperatures and other variables that quickly soak up available moisture.

The river’s flow at the USGS gage at Point of Rocks is hovering around 2,600 cubic feet per second (cfs), and dropping. If the flow goes below 2,000 cfs, ICPRB’s CO-OP team will initiate daily drought monitoring. In the case of a drought, the DC Metro area is well protected due to decades of planning and preparation.

It’s always a good idea to be mindful of our water use. Here are a few tips to be water wise:

🛠️ Fix leaky pipes.

🚿 Take shorter showers.

🌿 Choose native plants for your landscaping.

🥤 Capture and reuse water from activities like washing vegetables or waiting for the water to warm up. This water can be used to water plants or to clean.

🚰 Brushing teeth? Washing hands? Doing dishes? Turn the faucet off when you are not actively using the water during these daily activities.

What to celebrate this week: West Virginia Day (June 20)

With 3,490 square miles of land in the Potomac watershed, West Virginia makes up almost 25% of the total watershed. However, West Virginians make up a only small fraction (0.04%) of the overall population.* Happy West Virginia Day! (*2020 census)

ICPRB in the Community

Join ICPRB at one of our upcoming events:

Find even more fun activities on our Events Calendar > > >

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News From Around the Basin – June 13, 2024

Welcoming our summer intern, honoring Juneteenth and Pride Month, Potomac River dolphins, and more in this week’s Potomac News Reservoir >>>

Welcoming Summer 2024 Intern, AJ Villaruel!

AJ is a Junior at Cornell University studying Biological Engineering and Global Development. His academic and career interests lie within the intersection of engineering, sustainability, and community engagement, and how they can be used to equitably improve the lives of those worldwide.

This summer, he will assist the ICPRB’s Section for Cooperative Water Supply Operations on the Potomac (CO-OP) by enhancing modeling tools with remote sensing data and analyzing GRACE-based drought products to improve drought assessment tools. Additionally, he will support the Aquatic Life Section and the DEIJ committee of the Commission with research objectives.

AJ comes to ICPRB from the Yale Conservation Scholars Program. Welcome, AJ!


June Water Supply Outlook shows low risk of backup water use

Each month from April to October, the ICPRB Section for Cooperative Water Supply Operations on the Potomac, or CO-OP Section, produces the Water Supply Outlook, which details the probability of the DC metro area needing a release from upstream reservoirs for its drinking water supply.

Last summer, we were experiencing abnormally dry conditions. This summer, we are in better shape due to heavier rain this spring. The maps below illustrate the spatial variability of rainfall over the Potomac Basin in May. Normalized rainfall anomaly, indicating departure from normal conditions, reveals that rainfall was normal to slightly above normal across the basin.

Read the full Water Supply Outlook for the month of June here > > >

ICPRB is Hiring: Water Resources Planner

ICPRB seeks an enthusiastic, detail-oriented collaborator to be a key member of the Water Resources team. The Water Resources Planner will assist with interesting and challenging projects in this program area, an exciting opportunity to apply diverse technical and participatory skills in a large river basin context. This position will also be responsible for coordinating the Potomac River Drinking Water Source Protection Partnership, to include planning and executing quarterly meetings, administering the partnership, and designing and implementing associated educational events. Applications are due by 5:00 PM on July 5, 2024.

Learn more on our Jobs page >>>

Honoring freedom this week: Juneteenth

What does freedom mean to you? The organization Outdoor Afro, which has a mission of celebrating and inspiring Black connections and leadership in nature, will commemorate Juneteenth next Wednesday, June 19, under the theme of “Freedom to Access Water.”

To honor this day, we encourage you to spend time in nature (whether a nearby beach, swimming pool, or public park for example). Outdoor Afro asks you to discover a nearby water source in your neighborhood for 2.5 hours – to reflect in honor of the 2.5 years that freedom delayed for 250,000 enslaved Black people of Galveston, Texas.

More about Outdoor Afro and their Making Waves program, which has a goal of helping 1,200 Black children and caregivers learn to swim in 2024 > > >

Learn about LGBTQ History in the Outdoors

June is national LGBTQ Pride Month. You might be familiar with the Capital Pride parade and other Pride celebrations taking place this month, but did you know about the places all around the region, including several parks and plazas, that are significant to LGBTQ history?

Learn more about LGBTQ Heritage in the National Capital Region from the National Park Service > > >

ICPRB in the Community

Join ICPRB at one of our upcoming events:

Find even more fun activities on our Events Calendar > > >

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Media From Around the Basin – May 2, 2024

Finding a Lost River, reviving a forgotten river, and more, in this week’s Potomac News Reservoir > > >

Are you seeing green?

Does the warm weather, birds singing, and flowers blooming have you seeing green all around? What about in the water?

On the evening of April 30th, ICPRB staff, in coordination with our West Virginia partners, deployed a bright green dye into the lower Lost River. Although we’re a little late for St. Patrick’s Day, the dye will help scientists understand how water travels underground in a complex geological environment.

During dry weather, the Lost River disappears underground and reappears as the Cacapon River. The geological connection between the two rivers is not fully understood.

As the food grade dye sinks into the cracks and fissures in the Lost River, ICPRB scientists will monitor and map the color as it reemerges at springs throughout the Cacapon watershed. To help us track the dye, staff installed passive carbon pack collectors (essentially fish tank carbon filters) throughout the watershed.

The safe dye will degrade and wash away in only a few days, leaving the Cacapon as it was before (if a bit less festive).

If you are familiar with the geology in the region, you can help our scientists by identifying springs and ground water sinks in the Lost River Valley, Rio Valley, or Upper Cacapon.

Watershed moments — What to celebrate this week: Drinking Water Week

What do your coffee maker, a brewery, and you have in common? They all need clean drinking water to function properly. Drinking Water Week is a time to celebrate our most vital resource and those who work to protect it.

Ways to celebrate Drinking Water Week (May 5-11):

  • Learn where your drinking water comes from
  • Discover new ways to be more water efficient
  • Participate in a local river clean up

Thank you to all the water resource professionals who work hard to make sure our taps work when we need them (and our coffee maker, too!). Join the conversation using #drinkingwaterweek on your favorite social media platforms.

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Media From Around the Basin – April 25, 2024

Making science more accessible, Rock Creek by any other name, the state of the streams, and more, in this week’s Potomac News Reservoir. > > >

Making Science More Accessible

If you have visited the ICPRB website recently you might have noticed some changes. In our continued effort to make the website more accessible to a wider audience, we are excited to announce a couple new features.

Clicking a button at the top right of the website immediately translates the website’s content into other languages. Readers can choose from ten of the most common languages spoken within the Potomac River watershed, including Spanish and French.

Clicking the person icon at the bottom right of the website provides audio and visual options to make the website more accessible to people living with a disability. Readers will find a menu with eight different accessibility profiles to choose from, including motor impaired, color blind, and visually-impaired. Among other options, visitors can choose to have the website read aloud or change the look of the site (color contrast, text size, etc.) to better suit an individual’s needs.

Start exploring the website today > > >

Watershed moments — what to celebrate this week: Rx Take Back Day

One simple way to protect our waterways is to properly dispose of medication (NEVER flush it down the drain!). This Saturday there will be collection sites conveniently located throughout the region where anyone can safely offload unneeded medication as part of the DEA’s National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.

Find a collection site near you > > >

ICPRB in the Community

Below is a list of upcoming events ICPRB is producing or attending.

Find even more fun activities on our Events Calendar > > >

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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.