News

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NEW REPORT: 2022 Washington Metropolitan Area Drought Exercise

The Washington, D.C., metropolitan area (WMA) relies on the Potomac River for over three-quarters of its water supply. The area’s three major water suppliers (“CO-OP suppliers”), Fairfax Water, WSSC Water, and Washington Aqueduct participate in a cooperative system of water supply planning and management. This participation includes joint funding of water supply storage in reservoirs located upstream of the suppliers’ Potomac River intakes and coordinated operations during droughts.

During times of drought, the Section for Cooperative Water Supply Operations on the Potomac (CO-OP) of the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin (ICPRB) plays a crucial role in coordinating water supply operations. By coordinating withdrawals from the Potomac River, Patuxent, and Occoquan reservoirs, the CO-OP staff help ensure that water resources are being utilized efficiently and effectively for the benefit of the system. When the forecasted flow in the river is not sufficient to meet expected demands, the CO-OP staff make requests for releases from upstream reservoirs. These demands include the water supply needs of the WMA and an environmental flow-by of 100 million gallons per day (MGD), or 155 cubic feet per second (cfs), on the Potomac River below the Little Falls Dam near Washington, D.C.

The ICPRB CO-OP section conducts an annual drought exercise to maintain readiness for drought conditions. These exercises serve as a platform for CO-OP staff to evaluate and discuss water management strategies with relevant stakeholders, prior to a real drought scenario. The activities aid in training CO-OP staff on regional agreements, tools, and decision-making processes. Moreover, they offer participants the chance to refine their communication processes and enhance organizational efficiency.

The recently published 2022 Washington Metropolitan Area Drought Exercise report describes activities conducted during the most recent exercise.

Stakeholders received twice-daily email reports on “actual” precipitation, river flow, water withdrawals, and “simulated” operations and reservoir storages. This included the following elements:

  • A regional Drought Coordination Technical Committee (DCTC) conference call to discuss potential water use restrictions associated with the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG) “Warning” stage,
  • Communication with Washington Aqueduct on the Low Flow Allocation Agreement (LFAA) thresholds, and
  • Data collection and operational forecasts through CO-OP’s Data Portal and daily flow forecast tool to determine the need for “simulated” releases from Little Seneca and North Branch reservoirs (Jennings Randolph and Savage).
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Webinar Recording: Innovations in Sustainable Agriculture

ICPRB’s recent lunchtime webinar on innovations in sustainable agriculture discussed everything from cutting edge technology to good ol’ fashioned boots-on-the-ground community building.

Highlights include:

  • Swift Aeroseed discussed the creation of their drone cover crop seeding technology.
  • Pennsylvania’s Franklin County Conservation District told the story of the successful farming and outreach practices of Lesher’s Poultry Farm.
  • Penn State University shared water-saving sensor-based irrigation technology.
  • Rosetree Consulting recounted how farmers reaped the benefits from their project exploring strategic implementation of Soil Nutrient Management Plans.

We would like to thank Adam McClain of Pennsylvania’s Adams County Conservation District for moderating the discussion.

Check out the webinar below >>>

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Media From Around the Basin – May 11, 2023

Click here to see the full Potomac News Reservoir – May 11, 2023

Water Supply Outlook

The monthly Water Supply Outlook explores the possibility of water supply releases from the area’s reservoirs based on long-term precipitation data, flows, and other information for the Potomac basin.

The Outlook for May reports that low groundwater levels and the recent lack of spring rain have increased the likelihood of water being released from backup reservoirs in the Washington metropolitan area during the dry seasons. Despite receiving some rainfall at the end of April, the cumulative precipitation in the basin over the last 12 months remains below normal.

Currently, the Potomac River flow is sufficient to meet water demands without upstream reservoir releases. However, a prolonged dry spell could lead to hydrological drought. In the case of a drought, the region has contingency plans in place to manage water supply shortages.

Learn more in the May Water Supply Outlook >>>

Funding and Assistance for Small Water Utilities

Earlier this week, small water systems from the western part of the Potomac basin joined us in Romney, W.V., to learn about funding options, updated regulations, emergency preparedness, and more tools to protect our sources of drinking water.

Speakers from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, West Virginia Rural Water Association shared their resources with the group. The event was organized by the members of the Potomac River Basin Drinking Water Source Protection Partnership, a coalition of government agencies and water utilities that work together on source water protection issues.

In Celebration of Teacher Appreciation Week

We know teachers inspire the next generation of scientists. To assist them in this important work, ICPRB provides a variety of resources for formal and non-formal educators, including bilingual lesson plans that address a variety of curriculum requirements and the Environmental Resource Directory which links to organizations that can provide field experiences, professional development, funding, and more.

Explore our Educator Resources >>>

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May’s Water Supply Outlook is Out

The low groundwater levels and the recent lack of spring rain have increased the likelihood of water being released from backup reservoirs in the Washington metropolitan area during this summer and fall seasons. Despite receiving some rainfall at the end of April, the cumulative precipitation in the basin over the last 12 months remains below normal.

Currently, the Potomac River flow is sufficient to meet water demands without upstream reservoir releases. However, a prolonged dry spell could lead to hydrological drought. In the case of a drought, the region has contingency plans in place to manage water supply shortages.

Learn more in the May Water Supply Outlook >>>

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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.

 

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Media From Around the Basin – April 27, 2023

Click here to see the full Potomac News Reservoir – April 27, 2023

Thank you to all the volunteers at the recent cleanups!

People of all ages showed up to help clean trash out of a small creek in Frederick, MD at ICPRB’s recent stream cleanup event. Over 25 volunteers picked up around 500 pounds of trash, including a coat rack, several shopping carts, and a large stuffed teddy bear. A nice chair and a shovel even found a new home. One item, a (possibly stolen?) backpack, was handed to a passing police officer who promptly found it’s rightful owner.

We are grateful to the volunteers who showed up in Frederick and at events throughout the Potomac River watershed to work towards cleaner, healthier streams and rivers for all.

ICPRB in the Community

Walk in the Woods: Frederick Municipal Forest (April 29 near Frederick, MD)

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.

Media from around the Basin

Drought expands across D.C. area after helping fuel several recent fires

Washington Post

Flow rates on the Potomac River have been decreasing. The rate is down to 4,280 cubic feet per second as measured by a gauge at Point of Rocks in Frederick County, Md., according to Michael Nardolilli, executive director of the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin, which monitors the river for water supply and pollution issues. That’s less than half the flow rate of 11,600 cubic feet per second at this time last year, which was near the long-term average.

 

Deadline extended for presentations/abstracts for 2023 Potomac Conference on Climate Change

ICPRB

The Call for Presentations/Abstracts for the 2023 Potomac River Conference: One River’s Perspective on a Changing Climate has been extended to Friday, May 5.

 

EPA agrees to step up enforcement of Chesapeake Bay cleanup efforts in Pennsylvania

Richmond Times-Dispatch

The EPA has promised to step up enforcement in Pennsylvania of Chesapeake Bay cleanup rules that the state has been flouting and that the agency let slip during the Trump administration.

 

New mapping tool reveals community green space disparities in Chesapeake Bay watershed

WHRO

Not everyone has the same access to green space, which provides mental and physical health benefits. People who live in communities of color or lower-income neighborhoods often have to travel farther to get to them.

 

Climate change is affecting NH’s streams and rivers. Dartmouth researchers are tracking how.

NHPR

The study looked at the Dead Diamond river in northern New Hampshire, as well as the Mattawamkeag River in Maine, the White River in Vermont and the Shenandoah River in West Virginia. The three northern rivers are affected strongly by snowmelt, while the Shenandoah river is more affected by rainfall. The researchers are relatively confident we can expect higher streamflows and more flooding, particularly during heavy rainfall events in the warm seasons.

 

PUBLIC NOTICE: Maryland Agencies to Treat Potomac River for Black Fly Control on April 27

MDA

The Maryland Department of Agriculture—in partnership with the Department of Natural Resources—will treat a targeted area of the Potomac River near Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, as part of a pilot program to control black fly populations in the area.

 

Dominion seeks permit for new coal ash landfill in Virginia

Bay Journal

Dominion Energy is moving forward with plans to build a new coal ash landfill near the Potomac River in Northern Virginia, entering the last chapter of a long debate over how to safely dispose of the lingering contaminant.

 

Maryland Fishing Report – April 26

MDDNR

The trout management waters in western Maryland will often provide good water quality for trout throughout the summer months and provide excellent fishing opportunities for fly casters.

 

WVDNR stocks 86 waters

WDTV

The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources announced on Monday that the following waters were stocked during the week of April 18–22.

 

Fishing for Giant Blue Catfish in the Shadow of Capitol Hill

OutdoorLife

What a winter kamikaze run for trophy catfish outside Washington D.C. can teach you about global warming, the YouTube generation, and the importance of a good bridge net.

 

A New Smithsonian Guide for How You Can Make Your Daily Routine More Sustainable

Smithsonian Magazine

Launched on Earth Day 2023, the Anacostia Community Museum’s Center for Environmental Justice is a new research hub at the Smithsonian that will leverage history and current research to develop solution-based models by and for the people most affected by environmental injustice.

 

Letter: Time to think about protecting the Potomac

InsideNova

One major way [to Protect the Potomac] is through green infrastructure, including the use of permeable pavers and sidewalks and green swales. As building projects are under consideration, an essential element of weighing their environmental impact should include what they can contribute back to the environment.

 

Inside the Taylor Run restoration: Passionate residents collaborate with willing city staff to chart a path forward

Alexandria Times

Three million dollars slipped through the city’s fingers last week after City Council announced it would rescind two grants backing the Taylor Run and Strawberry Run stream restoration projects.

 

After-school program and city officials celebrate Arbor Day

Cumberland Times-News

Roughly 100 students in the program in first through fifth grades from John Humbird and South Penn elementary schools participated in Monday’s activity.

 

Many cleanups took place over the past few weeks in celebration of Earth Day. Thank you to all the volunteers who showed up to make a difference! Here are a few highlights in local media:

 

Friends of the Occoquan fill 185 trash bags

To honor the upcoming Earth Day, April 22, 2023, Friends of the Occoquan organized a river cleanup across seven parks and marinas along the Occoquan River on Saturday, April 15.

 

Preserving the Anacostia River

Yahoo!News

In Cheverly, several volunteers came out to the Anacostia watershed to pick up trash, serve their community and enjoy the river.

 

Volunteers clean up the Anacostia Watershed on Earth Day

Fox5

Many environmentally friendly events took place around the DMV in honor of Earth Day including a volunteer event at the Anacostia watershed to clean up trash so they and others can enjoy the river.

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We hike, rain or shine.

The forecast is calling for scattered showers, but this weekend’s Walk in the Woods: Frederick Municipal Forest will happen rain or shine. 

Our guide for the Frederick, MD hike is Jenny Willoughby, the Sustainability Manager of Frederick City. Jenny will share her extensive knowledge of the Frederick Municipal Forest and what it takes to sustainably and responsibly manage the city’s source of drinking water. She will talk about the active forest management, the history, and the flora and fauna of the area.

Expect to walk about 3 miles on moderate terrain. Please bring your own water bottle, snacks, and bug spray (if needed).

This event is free but please register in case of delays or rescheduling due to bad weather.

Register here >>>

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Deadline extended for presentations/abstracts for 2023 Potomac Conference on Climate Change

The Call for Presentations/Abstracts for the 2023 Potomac River Conference: One River’s Perspective on a Changing Climate has been extended to Friday, May 5.

Interested in speaking? Fill out the form >>>

The conference will be held at the Fairfax Water’s Griffith Water Treatment Plant in Lorton, Virginia.

The event will highlight the state of the science, case studies, equity and environmental justice considerations, policy implications, management actions, and funding considerations for climate change in the Potomac River basin.

Registration will open closer to the event. Sign up for email notifications of the conference by completing the Information Signup form.

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Media from around the basin – April 20, 2023

Click Here to see the Potomac News Reservoir Newsletter. 

Introducing our 2023 interns…

Allyson DiLorenzo will be helping to protect our drinking water. Using her R programming skills, she’ll improve our Emergency River Spill Model, a tool ICPRB uses to track a spill as it flows down the river. She’ll also be assisting in the coordination of the Potomac River Basin Drinking Water Source Protection Partnership, which is a collaboration of water utilities and government agencies focused on protecting sources of drinking water.

Allyson is originally from California. She is working on a Master of Science in Sustainability Management from American University where she promotes sustainability and inclusivity both on and off campus.

Kelly Davidson will be improving access to data and information about the Potomac River. She’ll enhance usability of ICPRB’s Water Quality Data Inventory, which lists available water quality data sources in the Potomac River watershed. She’ll also be ensuring our catalogue of publications is updated and archived correctly.

Kelly is working on her Master of Environmental Management at Duke University. During her college career, Kelly has worked to promote ecological conservation on campus through technical mapping work and getting her hands dirty by planting trees and removing invasive plants.

Know a student or post-grad that may be interested in an internship? We typically announce internship positions in December for the following spring/summer, so stay tuned!

**This is our 400th electronic issue of the Potomac News Reservoir. We look forward to providing you with 400 more issues with news and information about the Potomac River watershed.**

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Upcoming ICPRB Events

Walk in the Woods: Frederick Municipal Forest (April 29 near Frederick, MD)

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

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

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WEBINAR: Innovations in Sustainable Agriculture

Join us to learn and share about innovations in sustainable agriculture in the Potomac basin. The webinar will feature speakers from Swift Aeroseed LLC, Franklin County PA Soil and Water Conservation District, Penn State University, and Rosetree Consulting LLC. Panelists will share case studies on innovative sustainable agriculture including nutrient management, cover cropping, energy and water efficiency, and smart sensing. Presentations will be followed by Q&A with participants. 

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

 The webinar is on Friday, May 12 from 12-1:15pm and is free and open to the public.

Register here > > >