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Old 07-29-2013, 06:52 PM
 
411 posts, read 903,362 times
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My family is from DC. I grew up in NOVA and PG county. Nobody goes in the Potomac....ever..

When I was a kid, my brother jumped off our sail boat into the Anacostia river and my mom LOST HER MIND! She still talks about it today as if my brother had taken a leap off a high rise. She was very clear with us after that that we don't ever jump in the Potomac or the Anacostia river ever. So, I never did.


I asked her about this recently and she said this.... "The Potomac/Anacostia is black waters. Nobody knows how deep it is or whats in there. That water scared me when I was a little girl and it's filthy"..


My grandmother concurred and was horrified that my brother jumped into the Anacostia all those years ago. Apparently she hadn't been told. However, my grandmother did say that it wasn't uncommon for the neighborhood boys to go take a dip in the Potomac/Anacostia on hot days in the 30's and 40's.

Any thoughts on this? Do the waters of the Potomac scare you? Are my mother and grandma just batty old ladies with dated superstitions?

You have to admit it's not an attractive river. Very silty or muddy. I don't know if it's very polluted anymore but I think it was at one time.
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Old 07-30-2013, 09:01 AM
 
Location: USA
8,011 posts, read 11,436,295 times
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there is a lot of sewage, storm water runoff,
bacteria and other pollutants in that river.
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Old 07-30-2013, 09:26 AM
 
Location: Baltimore
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They swim in it during the Nation's Triathlon. So it's not NEVER used.
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Old 07-30-2013, 09:53 AM
 
Location: alexandria, VA
16,344 posts, read 8,132,672 times
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When I was a kid we used to joke that the Anacostia was so dirty you could walk across it and leave footprints. It's cleaner now but I still wouldn't even stick my big toe into it. Or the Potomac either.
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Old 07-30-2013, 09:54 AM
 
Location: Bowie but New Orleans born and bred
712 posts, read 1,097,963 times
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I've kayaked on the Potomac a few times in the past 2 years. Never had any issue and will kayak on it again in a couple weeks.
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Old 07-30-2013, 11:09 AM
 
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I wouldn't, especially anywhere south of the Key Bridge. Too much run off, garbage, etc.

The Nation's Tri DOES swim in it, and Fenty himself does it, but talk to anyone that does the Tri and its the worst part of the race. If I were into Tri's and wanted to do one close to home, I'd hold out for Columbia Tri...

I have kayaked in it, and will again, but there's a big difference between a few splashes of water and getting it in my ears. Ew.
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Old 07-30-2013, 12:06 PM
 
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Believe it or not, I swam in the Potomac a lot back in the 70s. My late father had a science background and knew where the safe areas were. Ironically, most of this was near the Little Falls Dam which has very dangerous rapids.

Anyway, jumped in and went under water numerous times. No injuries, diseases, or Nessie proxies. I would not do this now though, mostly because I do not remember the exact spots.

Years later a friend of mine made a habit of swimming near the Georgetown boat house. Caught something once that required a dose of antibiotics.
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Old 07-30-2013, 08:26 PM
 
429 posts, read 1,164,603 times
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The Potomac is pretty clean for an urban river and something of a poster child for the clean water act, but it is still an urban river. Millions of people live and work in the metro area. There's runoff from all the paved areas and DC has an antiquated combined stormwater/sewer system that tends to overflow sewage into the Potomac. No, I wouldn't want to swim in the Potomac in DC (and the Anacostia is far worse), but the fact that the Potomac is reasonably safe for swimming if there hasn't been a hard rain and that they can hold a triathlon swim in the DC section of the Potomac seems pretty incredible to me.

The further downriver you get, the better the water gets. I gather that the water at Point Lookout State Park at the mouth of the Potomac gets tested regularly and is consistently within standards. I wouldn't hesitate to swim there any more than I'd hesitate to swim in the middle of the Bay. Between the mouth of the Potomac and DC, I guess it is a judgment call. I presume the water gets tested regularly at places like Colonial Beach and is usually ok. I probably wouldn't swim anywhere close to DC for a few days after a major rainstorm. I live on the Potomac in Fort Washington, about two miles from the southernmost DC boundary. I see people boating, waterskiing, tubing, jetskiing, and swimming just offshore from my dock every summer weekend when the weather is good, so plenty of people are doing it, and I haven't heard much about illnesses in this area, although there have been a few cases further downriver.

BTW, you are absolutely entitled to your own opinion, but I don't feel that I "have to admit it's not an attractive river. Very silty or muddy..." I think the Potomac varies from spectacular at places like Great Falls with Class V+ rapids to beautiful in places like Mattawoman Creek and idyllic in front of Mount Vernon. Yes, it is a bit turbid in parts of the DC section of the river, but Fletcher's cove seems very pretty to me, and the fact that you can sit in a boat in the Potomac and see eagles and ospreys in front of the Lincoln Memorial again strikes me as great for an urban river.

No, the Potomac isn't as clean as I'd like it to be, but I love the water too much not to take advantage of the river in my backyard. I eat raw oysters, runny eggs, and rare beef, too, something every restaurant menu feels compelled to warn me not to do. I guess I'm just a maverick...
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Old 07-30-2013, 10:05 PM
 
411 posts, read 903,362 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RamblingMan View Post
The Potomac is pretty clean for an urban river and something of a poster child for the clean water act, but it is still an urban river. Millions of people live and work in the metro area. There's runoff from all the paved areas and DC has an antiquated combined stormwater/sewer system that tends to overflow sewage into the Potomac. No, I wouldn't want to swim in the Potomac in DC (and the Anacostia is far worse), but the fact that the Potomac is reasonably safe for swimming if there hasn't been a hard rain and that they can hold a triathlon swim in the DC section of the Potomac seems pretty incredible to me.

The further downriver you get, the better the water gets. I gather that the water at Point Lookout State Park at the mouth of the Potomac gets tested regularly and is consistently within standards. I wouldn't hesitate to swim there any more than I'd hesitate to swim in the middle of the Bay. Between the mouth of the Potomac and DC, I guess it is a judgment call. I presume the water gets tested regularly at places like Colonial Beach and is usually ok. I probably wouldn't swim anywhere close to DC for a few days after a major rainstorm. I live on the Potomac in Fort Washington, about two miles from the southernmost DC boundary. I see people boating, waterskiing, tubing, jetskiing, and swimming just offshore from my dock every summer weekend when the weather is good, so plenty of people are doing it, and I haven't heard much about illnesses in this area, although there have been a few cases further downriver.

BTW, you are absolutely entitled to your own opinion, but I don't feel that I "have to admit it's not an attractive river. Very silty or muddy..." I think the Potomac varies from spectacular at places like Great Falls with Class V+ rapids to beautiful in places like Mattawoman Creek and idyllic in front of Mount Vernon. Yes, it is a bit turbid in parts of the DC section of the river, but Fletcher's cove seems very pretty to me, and the fact that you can sit in a boat in the Potomac and see eagles and ospreys in front of the Lincoln Memorial again strikes me as great for an urban river.

No, the Potomac isn't as clean as I'd like it to be, but I love the water too much not to take advantage of the river in my backyard. I eat raw oysters, runny eggs, and rare beef, too, something every restaurant menu feels compelled to warn me not to do. I guess I'm just a maverick...

yes I meant the part of the river around Pg, nova and DC.
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Old 07-31-2013, 01:02 PM
 
Location: Prince George's County, Maryland
6,208 posts, read 9,244,566 times
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[quote=RamblingMan;30742386]The Potomac is pretty clean for an urban river and something of a poster child for the clean water act, but it is still an urban river. Millions of people live and work in the metro area. There's runoff from all the paved areas and DC has an antiquated combined stormwater/sewer system that tends to overflow sewage into the Potomac. No, I wouldn't want to swim in the Potomac in DC (and the Anacostia is far worse), but the fact that the Potomac is reasonably safe for swimming if there hasn't been a hard rain and that they can hold a triathlon swim in the DC section of the Potomac seems pretty incredible to me.

The further downriver you get, the better the water gets. I gather that the water at Point Lookout State Park at the mouth of the Potomac gets tested regularly and is consistently within standards. I wouldn't hesitate to swim there any more than I'd hesitate to swim in the middle of the Bay. Between the mouth of the Potomac and DC, I guess it is a judgment call. I presume the water gets tested regularly at places like Colonial Beach and is usually ok. I probably wouldn't swim anywhere close to DC for a few days after a major rainstorm. I live on the Potomac in Fort Washington, about two miles from the southernmost DC boundary. I see people boating, waterskiing, tubing, jetskiing, and swimming just offshore from my dock every summer weekend when the weather is good, so plenty of people are doing it, and I haven't heard much about illnesses in this area, although there have been a few cases further downriver.

BTW, you are absolutely entitled to your own opinion, but I don't feel that I "have to admit it's not an attractive river. Very silty or muddy..." I think the Potomac varies from spectacular at places like Great Falls with Class V+ rapids to beautiful in places like Mattawoman Creek and idyllic in front of Mount Vernon. Yes, it is a bit turbid in parts of the DC section of the river, but Fletcher's cove seems very pretty to me, and the fact that you can sit in a boat in the Potomac and see eagles and ospreys in front of the Lincoln Memorial again strikes me as great for an urban river.

No, the Potomac isn't as clean as I'd like it to be, but I love the water too much not to take advantage of the river in my backyard. I eat raw oysters, runny eggs, and rare beef, too, something every restaurant menu feels compelled to warn me not to do. I guess I'm just a maverick...[/quote]

+2 Great post, especially the last paragraph! That old school maritime Maryland spirit
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