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Water Supply Outlook – June, 2016

After the majority of the Mid-Atlantic area received higher-than-average rainfall during the month of May, there is a below normal probability of releases from the Washington metropolitan area reservoirs for the upcoming season. Read more in the Water Supply Outlook.

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The Potomac Fishing Report

Water levels have spiked again in the upper Potomac and its larger tributaries. River levels are quite high from Cumberland, Md., to Paw Paw, W.Va., from localized storms, and this water will travel downriver as the weekend progresses. Please be very cautious around the river this weekend. No flooding is predicted, but elevated water levels demand a high level of caution. The tidal Potomac may experience some shoreline flooding in a few areas, depending on tide and wind.

Please be very careful around the river and streams this weekend. Water levels had dropped from last week, but are again on the rise. The upper Potomac River will likely be hazardous for boating in some areas. River levels in May were something of a roller coaster, and it seems as if the river rises and becomes clouded after just a day or two of clearing conditions. For the upper river, shoreline fishing will be a good bet as fish will avoid the swollen current in the middle of the river. Look for current seams and eddies along the bank to entice a smallmouth bass or sunfish to take the bait. Some successful smallmouth action has been reported at White’s Ferry and lander, but conditions are changing rapidly for the worse. The Shenandoah system is elevated and a little stained as well. But is in better shape for fishing than the Potomac.

The metropolitan area Potomac has suffered from the rain as well. River levels are close to normal at Little Falls gage, but the water remains somewhat cloudy. Anglers at Fletcher’s Cove are catching some catfish and a few striped bass. In the District, bridge pilings are a good place to fish near the bottom for catfish and largemouth bass.

The Washington Channel holds some good grass beds, with some largemouth and striped bass. On the tidal Potomac downstream, the major embayments on both sides of the river have some good grass growth worth targeting, although the possible storms this weekend could make conditions even more challenging. A Maryland record northern snakehead was taken from the tidal Potomac by a bow hunter. Use of compound bows to take fish has really increased along with boats sporting banks of intense lights that attract snakeheads and blue catfish. A local fishmonger noted that a boat with two crew can harvest 200-300 pounds of snakehead in an evening, which are sold to restaurants and fish markets.

Near the river’s mouth, anglers are reporting catches of croaker. Striped bass are being taken by anglers trolling the navigation channel edges, and off of Point Lookout. Crabbing has not been great, but should be later as a very good year for crabbing has been predicted based on spring surveys.

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Quarterly Business Meeting Announcement

The ICPRB quarterly business meeting on June 6 and 7 will be held in Colonial Beach, Virginia. Hosted by theBusiness Meeting Potomac River Fisheries Commission, the Monday portion of the meeting will focus on groundwater resources in Virginia’s coastal plain. Groundwater is the primary drinking water source, and the Commonwealth is working to quantify the resource, which is under increasing demand. The following day includes the quarterly ICPRB business meeting, with reviews of ongoing projects. The meeting is open to the public, but space is limited. Please RSVP if you would like to attend.

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Residential Oil Tanks: What you Need to Know

Image courtesy of David Bonta on Flickr.

Image courtesy of David Bonta on Flickr.

Without proper care, old and rusted heating oil tanks can cause costly leaks and spills. Underground tanks are especially problematic because they can leak for years without notice. Large toxic spills may get all the media-fueled attention, but these silent, slow leaks add up to one major environmental problem for the Potomac River basin and its residents. Read more…

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There’s an app for that!

Do you have a favorite stream that you paddle, fish, or walk along? Have you found areas where stringy green algae seems to always grow? How about new stands of plants, or areas where the water always seems green with algae? Would you share your observations with us?

In ICPRB’s  5th year studying the prevalence and ecological impact of algae and plants in freshwater systems, our biologists hope to expand the project’s range and scope to include more rivers and streams affected by dense plant blooms. Logistically, this task is daunting without the help of volunteers. For this project, we are asking volunteers in different organizations throughout the Potomac basin to report bloom areas that they regularly visit. Ideally ICPRB biologists hope to identify more hot spots within the basin to later target more exhaustive localized research efforts.

The reporting network will be made up of volunteers and researchers found throughout Potomac waters. Using a newly developed smartphone APP we hope to get snapshots of these sites throughout the basin. This work can be done by watershed or other groups, or interested individuals. Read more…

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April Water Supply Outlook Available

Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin provides a monthly Water Supply Outlook and Status from April to October of each year. Based on careful data analyses, the report provides information on the possibility of a water release from local reservoirs. Read the April Report… 

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Eagles, Ospreys, and Falcons…oh my!

It’s finally spring. Along with cherry blossoms and warmer weather, this time of year brings new wildlife young. We are lucky to live in an area with an abundance of these new little creatures along the Potomac river and its surrounding areas. We are even more lucky to have great organizations that set up cameras to watch the little ones grow.

The National Arboretum Eagle Cam features a pair of Bald Eagles, known as “Mr. President” and “The First Lady,” perched in a Tulip Poplar tree in the National Arboretum. They have two eaglets that were born in mid-March. The American Eagle Foundation is currently taking name suggestions for the new little birds. 

The Chesapeake Conservancy has two bird cameras. The Osprey camera features “Tom” and “Audrey” who will be making a family in their cozy nest for the second year in a row. “Boh” and “Barb,” in the Peregine Falcon camera, have already laid four eggs.  

The Earth Conservation Corps has their eyes trained on “Liberty” and “Justice,” a pair of Bald Eagles who have made their home in SE Washington, DC for the past eleven years.

The Bald Eagle cam on the grounds of the US Fish and Wildlife National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, West Virginia has been active for over a decade. You can watch “Bell” and “Ben” feed their eaglets while looking over the NCTC campus.

Bonus cams! Watch the American Shad on the Shad Cam run by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. Although not active yet, these native fish should be making their way up the river soon. Done with wildlife? Check out this live view of the Southwest DC Waterfront where construction of the $2 billion project known as The Wharf is underway.

Below, Jim Cummins of ICPRB explains why eaglet eggs hatch this time of year:


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Potomac Drinking Water Source Protection Partnership – 2015 Annual Report

The Potomac River Basin Drinking Water Source Protection Partnership (DWSPP)  is coordinated by staff at the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin.

DWSPP is pleased to share the 2015 Annual Report. Inside you will find:

  • a note from the 2015 Co-chairs from the District of Columbia Department of Energy & Environment and Washington Aqueduct;
  • a summary of 2015 activities; and
  • our plans for 2016, including gathering information on chemicals stored in the basin, further improving regional spill response, and exploring a role for the Partnership related to toxic and non-toxic algae.

Many thanks to all of you who participated in their efforts to protect Potomac basin source waters in 2015. We hope to see you again this year!

To learn more about the Partnership and upcoming activities, visit