Federal City Council Focuses Attention on Anacostia River

WASHINGTON, DC – The Federal City Council (FCC) is developing a new initiative to contribute to the restoration and increased use of the Anacostia River Watershed in the District and Maryland.

“Progressive cities around the world are cleaning up their polluted streams and rivers and enticing residents and visitors to enjoy those natural assets in their communities,” said Federal City Council CEO and Executive Director Anthony A. Williams. “We are moving toward a clean Anacostia River with widely-used waterfront parks and festival areas, but there remains much to do.  The Federal City Council is happy to join the local governments and many other groups working to transform the Anacostia into a showcase for a world class capital city.”

The first expression of support for the new FCC initiative came from the Summit Fund of Washington, which has awarded the organization a significant two year grant to begin its work.  The Summit Fund has been involved in supporting Anacostia watershed restoration work for nearly two decades, but has announced plans to close its doors in 2015.

The Anacostia and its riverbanks have enormous unmet potential to be the place where District residents and visitors come together for recreational and cultural activities across income, racial, social, and language lines. Today, however, negative public perceptions of the river and persistent pollution have limited recreational use of the Anacostia while preventing the Anacostia watershed from becoming a major event hub for city residents.

The Federal City Council’s Anacostia River Initiative will have three parts: First, the FCC will work to increase awareness of the need to clean up the legacy toxic chemicals found in the bottom sediments of the river. In addition, the FCC will also work to encourage and facilitate private commercial property owners to more effectively address polluted runoff from  their own properties, and to provide consistent oversight and accountability of public stormwater management programs in the three jurisdictions containing the watershed—Montgomery County, Prince George’s County and the District.

Finally, the FCC plans to “incubate” a new non-profit trust over time to promote, facilitate, and coordinate efforts to restore and utilize the Anacostia and its riverbanks.

“I’m thrilled to see former Mayor Williams getting fully engaged again on Anacostia River restoration work,” said Summit Fund Executive Director Linda Howard. “We believe that he and the Federal City Council will be able to play a powerful role in creating a wonderful social, economic and recreational asset for all the region’s residents. Once the legacy toxics and polluted runoff issues are addressed, the way will be set for future generations to really enjoy the Anacostia.”

“I am proud of the work we did with the Anacostia when I was in office,” said former Mayor Williams. “In recent years, the city’s focus on pollution in the river has dwindled, postponing many necessary improvements to water quality. I am looking forward to returning my attention to the Anacostia now.”

Williams named Doug Siglin as Executive Director of the new Federal City Council initiative. Siglin has more than three decades of experience with clean water issues regionally, nationally, and internationally.

The Federal City Council’s work will be conducted in collaboration with other Summit Fund grant recipients, including the Anacostia Watershed Society, Anacostia Riverkeeper and the DC Appleseed Center and Capitol Riverfront BID.