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Editorial: Most Endangered?

Potomac River has made great strides, has miles to go to save the Bay.

Unless your home is served by well water, you are almost certainly among the five million people in the Washington Metropolitan area who get their drinking water from the Potomac River.

This week, the organization American Rivers named the Potomac River as the most endangered river in the nation. The Potomac River is far cleaner than it was 40 years ago when the Clean Water Act was enacted.

"Before the Clean Water Act was enacted in 1972, the Potomac was a cesspool of sewage and industrial pollution," says American Rivers. "Thanks to the Clean Water Act, the Potomac and rivers across the country are cleaner and safer for drinking, boating, and fishing. But … a University of Maryland report card has given the river a 'D' grade for water quality for the past two years."

Now it's safe for high school crew teams to take to the river by the dozens. Kayakers and paddle-boarders join them in intimate contact with the water. Motorboats, marinas and fishermen all show the confidence we now have in the integrity of the Potomac River.

Still, after a rain, stormwater washes agricultural waste, suburban and urban runoff carrying loads of pollution into our area's small streams, into the Potomac River and on into the Chesapeake Bay. Bacteria in the river after big rainstorms, from dog waste in suburban areas, agricultural runoff in more rural areas, has led to the recommendation by some that people avoid contact with the river for two-to-three days.

Slowing stormwater runoff, limiting the amount of "nutrients" that are swept down the river into the Chesapeake Bay, and improvements in methods of treating sewage are all critical to the ongoing health of our water supply.

Fish in the Potomac River also continue to show symptoms of exposure to endocrine disruptors, with male bass carrying eggs and other signs. Scientists suspect variety of pharmaceuticals and chemicals are causing these abnormalities, and it is not known whether current water purification systems are removing those pollutants fully from the drinking water.

American Rivers called on Congress to kill any legislation that weakens the Clean Water Act or prevents the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from restoring protections for small streams and wetlands under the Act. American Rivers also called on the Obama Administration to finalize guidance clarifying the scope of the Clean Water Act and issue a rule-making to ensure that all waters get the protections Americans expect and deserve.

The Potomac River continues to serve as the scenic backdrop to much of what we do here. Let's continue to push for improvements.

Father's Day Photos

Every year at this time, the Connection puts out the call for photographs of fathers and their children, grandfathers and their children and grand children.

Father's Day is Sunday, June 17, 2012 and once again the Connection will publish a gallery of Father's Day photos.

Send in photos as soon as possible, including names of everyone in the picture, the date the picture was taken, the ages of the children and sentence or two about what is happening and where the photograph was taken. Be sure to include your town name and neighborhood. Photos are due by June 8.

You can submit your photos online at http://www.connectionnewspapers.com/fathersday or email to north@connectionnewspapers.com.