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NEWS RELEASE: We help protect your drinking water – and you can, too.

NEWS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 27, 2022

We help protect your drinking water – and you can, too.

If the majority of Americans don’t know where their water comes from, how can they protect it?

According to a 2007 EnviroMedia study, only 32 percent of Americans know the source of their drinking water. A 2017 Gallup Poll indicates that 63 percent of Americans worry “a great deal” about pollution in their drinking water, and 57 percent worry about pollution in rivers, lakes, and reservoirs.

“The Potomac River supplies 78 percent of the drinking water for the more than 5.1 million people who live and work in the DC Metro area – not to mention the countless daily visitors,” said Michael Nardolilli, Executive Director of the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin (ICPRB).

During Source Water Protection Week, from Sept. 25 – Oct. 1, ICPRB will join water organizations from across the nation to share information about protecting sources of drinking water and simple steps everyone can take to make a difference, Nardolilli said.

What is Source Water Protection? The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines source water as “sources of water (such as rivers, streams, lakes, reservoirs, springs, and groundwater) that provide water to public drinking water supplies and private wells.”

“Source water supplies raw, unfiltered water to water treatment plants. Source water protection is the proactive action taken to safeguard the water before it reaches the plant,” said Christina Davis, Senior Water Resources Planner at ICPRB.

According to Davis, clean water at the source reduces public health risks and controls costs at the water treatment plant. Safe drinking water coming from the water treatment plant to the tap protects infrastructure, appliances, and most importantly, human health. And it’s not just humans who benefit. The animals and plants that live in–and alongside–our waterways also benefit from cleaner source water.

Additionally, source water protection is an environmental justice issue, according to the United Nations. The organization declared access to clean drinking water as a human right, yet low-income and minority communities are more likely to suffer from the impacts of polluted streams, rivers, and reservoirs.

“During Source Water Protection Week, water suppliers, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations will be sharing information on what is being done in the Potomac basin and what we all can do to Protect the Source. We look forward to celebrating source water protection throughout the week, and we encourage basin residents to do the same. They can start by learning more about their local water source through their water utility’s Annual Water Quality Report,” said Davis.

The EPA provides access to Annual Water Quality Reports for community water systems across the nation on their Consumer Confidence Report website.

Davis shared activities everyone can do to protect drinking water sources:

  • Limit the amount of deicing salts used in the winter;
  • Pickup dog waste;
  • Properly dispose of medications;
  • The Simple Actions we all can do to Make a Difference leaflet lists actions for individuals, children, homeowners, non-profit/businesses, agriculture, and government agencies, to protect sources of drinking water.

Perhaps most important, Davis notes, is to get outside and enjoy the recreational opportunities our rivers, streams, and lakes provide. Stewardship grows from knowing and appreciating our natural resources.

Nardolilli says source water protection takes many forms, “For example, ICPRB works with organizations like the Potomac River Basin Drinking Water Source Protection Partnership (DWSPP), a coalition of water suppliers and government agencies who work together on source water protection issues. The DWSPP recently completed a Land Prioritization Mapping Project that aims to assist land conservation organizations in prioritizing specific parcels of land in the Potomac River basin to obtain the most drinking water quality benefits.”

Join the conversation on social media by following #protectthesource and #protectthepotomac.

CONTACT

Renee Bourassa Interstate | Commission on the Potomac River Basin|  rbourassa@icprb.org | 301.417.4371

 Click here for a PDF version of this announcement.

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Join ICPRB for a Walk in the Woods in Gaithersburg, MD on Oct 29

Winter brings cozy sweaters and steaming cups of hot chocolate, but it also brings piles of winter salt that could end up in our rivers and streams. Winter salt harms aquatic life, plants, infrastructure and our drinking water.

Join the Izaak Walton League of America and the City of Gaithersburg on Oct 29 at 9:00 am for a fun and informative hike to learn more about our addiction to deicing salt and how we can all live on a low winter salt diet.

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

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About the Basin: Widewater State Park

Widewater State Park

Stafford, VA

Photo credit: Widewater State Park shipwreck, Virginia State Parks (Flickr)

Widewater State Park is close enough for a daytrip from Metro DC but far enough away that the big city light pollution is not an issue for the night astronomy clubs that occasionally hold public events at the park. Stretching between the shore of the Potomac River and the shore of the Aquia Creek, the park provides stunning water views, fishing, and recreational access to water.

The park is split between two parcels of land, the Aquia side and the Potomac side. Although these two areas appear small, the park is deceptively big as much of the park land is undeveloped and unavailable to the public, yet anyways. The visitors center and gift shop are on the Aquia side. Park rangers provide children’s fishing clinics, guided kayaking tours, and many more fun and interactive activities. Find more information on at the park’s website or on the Friends of Widewater State Park Facebook page.

For those visiting from the water (from Mallows Bay, for example, which is just up the river), there are four paddle-in primitive campsites available.

Fishing is a popular activity along the shores of the park. The Potomac is tidal in this area but is considered freshwater for fishing licensing purposes.

There are two car-top launches, one in each river, for canoes, kayaks, and standup paddleboards. If you launch your craft on the Potomac side then head upriver a couple miles, you’ll find a sunken ship. The scuttled ship provides excellent fishing and birding opportunities.

Don’t expect a dip in the river. There are no designated swimming areas due to hazardous swimming conditions in the river.

This quiet, unassuming state park is only a few years old and still has room to grow. This is one to watch, as they say. Future plans for the park include extended trails, a motorboat launch, and a campground.

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Potomac Fishing Report – Sept 2, 2022

Silhouette of a young boy fishing at sunset.The holiday weekend will see greater numbers of people recreating on and along the river. For many, this will be a last chance to get out before schools open and vacations end. In addition to sharing the river with more recreationists, anglers are confronted with a slower time of year. Rivers are low and seem even lower in areas with extensive aquatic grasses. The water is warm, and fishing has slowed. Both anglers and fish are waiting on the shorter days and cooler water temperatures that will bring an active fall season.

The Shenandoah system’s North and South forks are low, clear, and fishable. The summer pattern spreads fish out. Anglers will find the best fishing in the early morning and hitting shaded current areas during the day. Anglers are finding smallmouth and catfish. The mountain trout streams in the national park are low but wary trout will react to evening hatches of insects and moths flying around the streams.

In the South Branch Potomac, smallmouth bass are sluggish but can be taken by stealthy anglers around Petersburg. The river also is giving up some catfish.

The North Branch Potomac and Savage rivers are at their usual lull during this time of year, although stealthy anglers are still taking trout in the management areas. The ICPRB trout monitoring program on the North Branch is continuing with good success in tracking tagged trout. The trout’s movement through the system can provide data needed to inform management options.

The upper Potomac River has been very productive this season. Anglers are still taking some nice smallmouth bass despite the very low water. Boats can still launch from the usual sites, such as Lander and Whites Ferry, but low water can limit the range from any of the spots. Large stands of aquatic grasses between Point of Rocks to Noland’s Ferry makes boat travel even more difficult and wading or fishing from a kayak is an attractive alternative. Water temperatures are around 80 degrees with good clarity. Anglers are using soft plastics, spinnerbaits, and stick worms to slowly fish rocks and boulders in the river. The river is fishing very well from the Mouth of the Monocacy downstream. Anglers can expect to catch 15 or more fish in a day, with the chance for a 20-inch fish. Live and cut bait will lure channel and flathead catfish.

In the metro area, smallmouth bass are being caught in the Key Bridge area, and there are some reports of catfish and smallmouth around Fletcher’s Boat House. Others are finding some fish in the vicinity of the Kennedy Center. In the tidal Potomac, anglers are focused on bridge pilings, riprap, and other structures. Anglers are using small platics, stickworms and small crank baits to probe shaded areas. The growing hydrilla bed edges provide another target. Largemouth, smallmouth, and some striped bass can be taken in Washington Channel grass beds and channel drop off. The lower Anacostia grass beds and armored shorelines hold some bass, snakeheads, and catfish. The Blue Plains area and adjacent spoils are holding some largemouth bass. Some nice bass are being found in the spoils area and the docks at National Harbor.

The tidal Potomac is fishing continues to fish nicely for late summer. It is important to fish moving water and early in the morning. Night fishing is not a bad idea as the water cools down from the day. Fish will be holding to structure and will be in shade during the day. The usual areas are all holding up well. ‘the mouth of Piscataway Bay is yielding largemouth bass, and the nearby channel at Fort Washington is a blue catfish paradise. Mattawoman Creek aquatic plants are holding bass and snakeheads. Pohick Bay has enough grass and structure to explore for days for bass. Snakeheads are at the heads of tidal creeks. The grass stands in the region are beginning to wind down, and clumps are breaking off to form floating stands of dead grass that are worth fishing. The shade provided by the mats hold fish, which are feeding off the crayfish and other creatures holding in the mats. plastics, stickworms, and small crank baits are  offerings of choice. Lures should be fished very slowly, and anglers must focus on the light bite for a good hook set.

Fishing activity around Colonial Beach is slow, but anglers are taking some striped bass, Spanish mackerel, and bluefish. The dry weather has brought salty water up the river, and sea nettles are very thick in some areas. The bottom for the main river channel has very low dissolved oxygen, so fishing won’t be as productive below 15 feet. Blue catfish are always available on live or cut bait.

Near the river’s mouth, anglers are finding Spanish mackerel, bluefish, and red drum. Croaker, white perch, and kingfish round out the angling menu. Bluefish are everywhere. Anglers are casting in the shallows for speckled trout. And of course there are blue catfish. Crabbing is slow.

Be careful on the water this weekend. Be mindful of the hazards of abundant sun and high temperatures on both you and your quarry. Handle all fish to be returned quickly and with care. This report is the last for this season. We would appreciate any feedback on this service so that we can make it more useful. We wish all a good fall, and many more enjoyable hours on the river. As always, contact ICPRB with questions about the river and its many uses.

We are grateful to the many river watchers who contribute to this effort. Particular thanks go to the state departments of natural resources, National Bass Guides, Shallow Water Fishing Adventures, and  Machodoc Creek Marina, Inc.

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Potomac Fishing Report – August 26, 2022

Fishing Report

The Shenandoah system’s North and South forks rare low, clear, and fishable. The summer pattern has anglers on the North and South forks catching fish in the early morning and hitting shaded current areas during the day. Anglers are finding smallmouth and catfish. The mountain trout streams in the national park are low but trout are responding to evening hatches of insects and moths flying around the streams.

Little Girl Fishing at Little Seneca Lake

In the South Branch Potomac, smallmouth bass are being taken in the river around Petersburg. The river is low and clear, so follow the summertime mantra of long casts and very slow retrieves.

The North Branch Potomac and Savage rivers are reporting decent action in the trout management areas. The North Branch may be hard to fish from some banks due to the Jennings Randolph release this weekend. The ICPRB trout monitoring program on the North Branch is continuing with good success in tracking tagged trout.

The upper Potomac River continues to produce nice fish this year. Water temperatures are around 80 degrees with good clarity. The low water levels seem even lower in the stretch from Point of Rocks to the Monocacy/ Nolands Ferry, where aquatic grass stands are strongly established. The area is still generally passable by boat, but just barely, according to some users. The grasses provide habitat for bass, baitfish, and other creatures, and is contributing to great water clarity this year. The usual access points are all fishable, with a range of smallmouth bass including the occasional 20-inch fish. Anglers are using soft plastics, spinnerbaits, and stick worms to probe rock gardens with currents and eddies. Treefalls and other structure are secondary targets. Low-light times are best to find fish seeking cooler temperatures. Channel catfish and flathead catfish can be taken with live bait.

The metro area is in typical summer pattern, with anglers targeting bridge pilings, riprap, docks, and other structure, preferably in the shade. The area around Key Bridge provides a break from the crowds. Casting plastics and crankbaits to bridge pilings can bring a strike by smallmouth, largemouth, or striped bass. Washington Channel walls and drop-offs are productive. Snakeheads can be found in the lower Anacostia, Some nice bass are being found in the spoils area and the docks at National Harbor.

The tidal Potomac is fishing about the same with early morning and evening periods of moving water providing the best conditions. Channels and deep holes are the home of large blue catfish that can be taken with cut or live bait. Largemouth bass fishing remains good with anglers targting docks and structure until the gras beds fill in at Mattawoman and downstream. The Mattawoman lilly and spatterdock stands are producing largemouth bass and snakeheads, which can also be found lurking in the grass beds at the heads of tidal creeks. Grass beds in Pohick Bay and Chicamuxen Creek are producing some nice fish. Floating mats of detached or dying aquatic grass hold crayfish and provide shade for bass holding below, and penetrating the mats with plastics can bring some good bites. Stick worms fished very slowly are always good bets in the summer heat.

Fishing activity around Colonial Beach is picking up, with some nice catches of striped bass in the 30-inch range. Anglers also are finding some nice Spanish mackerel and bluefish, along with some large spot and croaker. The salty water also is hosting high numbers of sea nettles. There was a report of a bull shark being caught in a catfish net north of Mathias Point. The river’s summer dissolved oxygen problem is about average for this time of year, and depths below 15 feet in the main channel may not have enough oxygen to comfortably hold fish. Blue catfish are readily available.

Near the river’s mouth, anglers are landing some nice Spanish mackerel, bluefish, and red drum. Croaker, white perch, and kingfish are still being taken around Cornfield Harbor. Bluefish are common, and anglers are casting in the shallows for speckled trout. And of course there are blue catfish.

Be careful on the water this weekend. Be mindful of the hazards of abundant sun and high temperatures on both you and your quarry. Handle all fish to be returned quickly and with care.

We are grateful to the many river watchers who contribute to this effort. Particular thanks go to the state departments of natural resources, National Bass Guides, Shallow Water Fishing Adventures, and  Machodoc Creek Marina, Inc.

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About the Basin: Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve

Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve

Leesburg, VA

Just south of Leesburg, Virginia, lies a 725-acre hiking oasis. The Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve feels secluded and quiet even on the busiest of weekends. In 2016, it was designated as a Virginia Treasure. As Loudoun County’s only nature preserve, the land is protected for environmental and cultural resources through a conservation easement with Virginia Outdoors Foundation. These types of easements are important for preserving wildlife and water quality as well as providing outdoor recreational opportunities.

Photo Credit: Friends of Banshee Reeks (Instagram)

Interesting old farm buildings, springs, and other historic sites can be seen from the trail, but park staff request that visitors refrain from entering the archeological sites, historic sites, nature study areas, and environmental study areas.

The visitors center provides information on these various sites, the flora and fauna at the park, plus events for the public like a weekly children’s storytime. Want to get more involved? Join park staff on the third Saturday of each month for the designated Volunteer Day to help maintain trails, remove invasive plants, restore native plants, and more.

An abundance of hiking trails criss-cross through the preserve. They are well-marked, but hikers should keep their eyes on the trail blazes (those colored marks on trees that designate the correct path) to stay on their desired trail. That may be hard to do if you’re also admiring the profusion of wildflowers along the way. Dogs are allowed but horses and bicycles are not. Ticks can be an issue, so bug spray or protective clothing are recommended.

A small fishing pond provides time for quiet reflection so grab a pole and try your cast for catfish and blue gill (license required).