News from Around the Basin – November 2, 2023

Protecting our river from spills 🦸‍♀️, drought continues ☀️, spooky species in the Potomac River basin 🕷️, and more, in this week’s Potomac News Reservoir 💧 Nov 2, 2023.

The River Report – Flows Continue to Drop

At only 8.1” of rain over the past 3 months, we are 1.9” below average with no relief in sight. Some cities in the basin, including Emmitsburg, MD, and Strasburg, VA, are implementing mandatory water restrictions due to low water levels.

ICPRB CO-OP staff continue to carefully monitor the situation. Daily reports are posted on Twitter/X using #droughtmonitoring.

You may notice the daily ups and downs on the river’s flow at Point of Rocks in the graph, including a recent jump and subsequent dip. These fluctuations are due to dam operations artificially adjusting the flow upstream.

Hoping for the Best, Preparing for the Worst

ICPRB and our utility and government partners work hard to ensure a resilient and reliable water supply for the 5 million+ people who rely on the Potomac River and its tributaries for their drinking water. This week, we took a few days to practice our response to an oil spill in the river, including deploying a boom (see the video).

These exercises help us be prepared for possible spills or other threats to our drinking water. Participants included WSSC Water, Fairfax Water, DC Water, Town of Leesburg, Virginia, Loudoun Water, and government agencies from throughout the Potomac watershed. The event was planned and funded by US Environmental Protection Agency Region 3 with the assistance of ICPRB. See more photos on our Facebook post.

(A Snowy) Winter is Coming

Meteorologists predict up to 6” more snow than average this winter. This will help refill our depleted groundwater, but it will also bring salty runoff into our streams, rivers, and even into groundwater. Our rivers are getting saltier, which is dangerous for aquatic life, our drinking water, and our infrastructure. Recent research event looks at how the issue extends beyond our freshwater supplies.

Last Saturday, a group of people enjoyed a guided hike to learn more about the issue of the overuse of winter salt and what they can do to make a difference. We also founds some spooky species along the way.

More pictures can be found on our Facebook page.

We walked along the Muddy Branch Trail, a 10-mile trail which ends at the Potomac River. The trail begins on the grounds of the Izaak Walton League of America’s national headquarters and ground zero for the Salt Watch program which was born after residents noticed a large pile of winter salt on the road above the Muddy Branch creek.

What can you do to protect our drinking water?

❄️ Shovel before you salt

🧂   Use less salt

🧹  Sweep it up and reuse it next time!

🧪 Get your own Salt Watch kit to monitor a stream near you.

Thanks to the Izaak Walton League of America and the City of Gaithersburg for partnering with us on this hike! We have one final guided hike for 2023. Join us this Saturday at 2:00 pm for the Walk in the Woods: Frederick Municipal Forest.