Sunday, September 25, 2022

Mussels Project aims to improve water quality in Washington’s Potomac River

Emily Frank lifts a round basket from the Potomac River at National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland, outside Washington. Inside are freshwater mussels, a shellfish that a century ago used to be in abundance in the Potomac River.

but not anymore.

Frank, vice president of development and philanthropy for the Potomac Riverkeeper Network, an environmental organization working to protect the waters, said: “Millions of Muslims were in these waters when they started to die out in the last century, but we’re not sure why. “. river quality.

“What we do know is that mussels were being over-harvested for their shells that were made into buttons,” she told VOA.

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Now, a project is underway to restore native freshwater mussels in the Potomac to improve water quality. The river provides drinking water to 6 million people.

“The aim is to restore 50 million mussels to the river by 2030,” Frank said.

Presently this project is in initial stage.

Emily Frank, vice president of development and philanthropy for the Potomac Riverkeeper Network, holds a Muslim. The environmental group plans to use millions of shellfish to help clean the river’s waters. (Deborah Block/VOA)

“There are two dozen mussels being suspended in baskets above the river bed – a kind of mussel nursery where we can monitor them and better ensure their survival,” Frank said.

“The long-term goal is for the mussels to start breeding on their own,” said riverkeeper Dean Naujox, who oversees the Potomac River.

The beautiful 650-kilometer-long Potomac River flows through Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington, DC. flows through

Despite its beauty, the river has been facing environmental degradation over the years.

Once considered one of the country’s dirtiest rivers, cleanup efforts, public education, and laws to protect the country’s waterways have helped improve water quality.

However, pesticide runoff from fields and lawns is making its way into the river. In addition, in the Washington area, contaminated water from roads gets into waterways, as does sewage after heavy rains due to old water and sewer infrastructure.

Harmful pollutants to the river are some of the things mussels use to get their nutrition.

Shellfish remove harmful algae and bacteria, as well as toxins and sediment, from the water.

“They like nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorous, so they’re helping to remove excess chemicals like fertilizer on our lawns, which run off into the river,” Frank said.

If the program is successful, water quality in the Potomac is expected to improve significantly in the future.

“These mussels alone must filter about 18 million gallons” [68 million liters] of water in a year,” Washington’s water utility, DC Water, said on its website.

The Potomac River Network monitors water quality. Volunteers take water samples at various places along the river.

Emma Carter, 16, who filled a small bottle with water in Alexandria, Virginia, told VOA, “What surprises me if the water samples are so different depending on where they were taken. You think Maybe they’ll all be the same, but it’s not.”

Emma Carter, a volunteer, takes water samples from the Potomac River in Alexandria, Virginia.  (Deborah Block/VOA)

Emma Carter, a volunteer, takes water samples from the Potomac River in Alexandria, Virginia. (Deborah Block/VOA)

The samples are analyzed for E. coli, bacteria from faecal contamination in the water.

“Our data showed alarming levels of E.coli in areas near combined sewer overflows that discharge raw sewage when it rains,” said a report from the RiverKeeper Network.

In addition to assessing the health of the river’s water, the information is used to inform people where it may be safe to swim in the Potomac.

Another initiative to help keep the river clean is encouraging volunteers to attend garbage collection events.

Nadia Coleman searches for garbage floating in a kayak in Alexandria.

“Every time I come here I find cans, plastic water bottles, and take-home food containers — and even today in someone’s boot.”

A family picks up trash along the Potomac River in Alexandria, Virginia, during Cleanup Day, sponsored by the Potomac Riverkeeper Network.  (Deborah Block, VOA)

A family picks up trash along the Potomac River in Alexandria, Virginia, during Cleanup Day, sponsored by the Potomac Riverkeeper Network. (Deborah Block, VOA)

Frank is particularly concerned about the pollution from water bottles.

“They break down into very small pieces and birds, fish and other animals eat it as food,” she said. “Their stomach is full and they starve to death. Chemicals present in plastic get into our drinking water supply.”

Naujox said he wants to “install garbage traps in tributaries of the Potomac to prevent waste from draining into the river that so many people enjoy recreational activities such as boating and fishing.”

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Nation World News Desk
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