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The Anacostia River is among the most polluted tributaries in Chesapeake Bay. With substantial algal blooms and bacterial contamination, it has placed those who recreate on the water at considerable health risk. The first phase of a recently completed, multi-billion dollar infrastructure project, the Anacostia River Tunnel, which will retain and divert sewage and storm water effluent is due to be operational by March 2018. The tunnel project is award-winning from the perspective of the engineering community, but the environmental outcome is yet to be determined. While it may be years before the full infrastructure project is complete or full ecosystem recovery is seen, changes in phytoplankton and bacteria should be clearly evident in these first two years of project implementation. Accordingly, this Sea Grant project will address the hypothesis that the diversion of water and its associated nutrients will lead to an improvement in water quality, a shift in the community composition of phytoplankton species, and a reduction in sewage-associated bacteria.
The specific objectives of this project are:
Building on a considerable body of work on baseline conditions over the past few years, this project will bring new seasonal water column measurements, enclosure enrichment studies, and molecular approaches to determine if, indeed, a success story can be written. The PIs, together with their students, will use established relationships with the Anacostia Riverkeeper and the Anacostia Waterfront Trust to communicate with community groups via meetings, social media and the local press and implement a citizen science program to allow for rapid response regarding water safety