Best Place to See Environmental Degradation Firsthand

Ballpark Boathouse
Diamond Teague Park, Potomac Avenue and First Street SE, (202) 337-9642
The Anacostia River’s banks were once home to an impressive array of industrial plants that poured their effluent into its waters. Many of the plants are gone, but their legacy remains: The Anacostia has been singled out as one of the most polluted rivers in the country. The Environmental Protection Agency filed suit last year against Pepco for allegedly violating its discharge permits and pumping toxins into the water on more than a hundred occasions between 2009 and 2014. Though the city is still in the mapping-the-pollutants phase that precedes the making-a-plan-to-clean-it-up phase, you can undertake your own survey any time after May 2. Rent a canoe and paddle upriver among the floating plastic bottles and sickly fish, or try a kayak to get that much closer to the certifiably unsafe water ($25 per hour for the canoe; $15 or $20 per hour for a single or double kayak). Sign the liability waiver, and you’re on your way. Wave at the anglers on the banks pulling up their tumor-riddled catches.