Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton announced earlier this week that she was able to include in the House’s Water Resources Development Act of 2020 (WRDA), the major water infrastructure bill, a provision that would help accelerate the cleanup of harmful sediments in and around the federal navigation channel in the Anacostia River.
The provision changes the parameters in terms of depth and coordinates of the federal navigation channel. The Transportation and Infrastructure Committee passed WRDA two days ago.
The Congresswoman’s provision supports the District of Columbia Department of Energy and Environment’s (DOEE) plan to remediate the Anacostia River, a priority for Norton, by either dredging or capping toxic sediment to make the river safe for wildlife and District residents. This plan is called the Anacostia River Sediment Project.
“As chair of the House Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, I am very grateful to my colleagues on the Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee for including this important provision for the District and the surrounding region in WRDA,” Norton said. “The Anacostia River has long been a major priority for me, and this provision is necessary to continue the progress being made on cleanup of the river. This provision will allow DOEE to move forward with its plans for sediment remediation in the Anacostia River more quickly and at a lower overall cost. This is a major victory for our city.”
Due to sediment accumulation over time, many parts of the federal navigation channel in the Anacostia do not meet the current formal depth requirements of the federal navigation channel.
In the absence of a partial deauthorization, in order to move forward with its plan for sediment remediation, DOEE would have had to dredge all the way down to the full depth of 24 feet in many places, a depth that is inconsistent with existing and anticipated future uses of the Anacostia River.