Taking Steps to Make the Potomac Healthy

By Eric Kessler
Principal and Managing Director
Arabella Philanthropic Investment Advisors

Last November, the Potomac Conservancy and I co-hosted the inaugural Potomac Table, which brought together over 30 regional philanthropic leaders to learn about the state of the Nation’s River. Although there has been much progress since President Lyndon Johnson declared a polluted Potomac River a “national disgrace,” many stretches of the river remain unhealthy.

85 percent of the region’s residents get our drinking water from the Potomac. As we open our taps, few of us think about polluted soil from construction sites, farm runoff carrying hormones, antibiotics, and pesticides, or rainwater running off steaming asphalt parking lots. These pollutants flow unchecked into the ecosystem.

With Earth Day and spring upon us, thousands of people are enjoying the watershed’s trails and parks. When I am out with my family on our boat this summer, I want to know that we can swim in the Potomac without the risk of getting sick.

We can achieve reasonable goals through actions on the land that support and sustain healthy waters, including:

  • Protecting forests and replanting more trees;
  • Limiting pollution running off roofs and roads;
  • Building a community of champions for the Potomac.

With the support of WRAG members such as the Cafritz Foundation, Prince Charitable Trust and the MARPAT Foundation, the Potomac Conservancy contributes to a united region by working to safeguard the lands and waters of the Potomac. Together, they understand that water is not a waste product, but a resource.

As individuals and communities who care about the health of our lands and waters, we must embrace stronger protections for our rivers and forests.

The steps we take – or fail to take – today will have a profound impact on the future of the Potomac River as well as the region’s quality of life and our own health.