The Anacostia Waterfront Trust is pleased to report that we have worked with our friends at SmithGroup, a design and planning firm that has long been involved in the Anacostia waterfront, to complete a formal study of the feasibility of creating a swimming facility in the Anacostia River! The “Anacostia River Pool” project is a collaboration between AWT and other partners through the Anacostia Watershed Urban Waters Partnership.

The water quality in the river isn’t perfect, but it is rapidly improving and much better than most people realize. The District Department of Energy and Environment is ramping up its water quality monitoring, and the Anacostia Riverkeeper is preparing to launch a broad citizen science monitoring program. Soon we will have a much better picture of water quality in the river. You can read more about what the data shows so far on the website for the feasibility study.

Why are we so excited about swimming in our river? First of all, billions of taxpayer and ratepayer dollars have been invested in cleaning up the Anacostia watershed. What better way to celebrate our efforts than to jump in the water once we’ve made it clean enough? Humans are naturally attracted to water, and on a hot day in the District, there’s nothing better than dipping your toes—or jumping all the way in—to one of the region’s popular outdoor pools.

In addition, swimming in the Anacostia River isn’t a new concept: there is a history of swimming in and around the Anacostia River. Not all of it is a happy history. Pools in DC were segregated for a long time, and African American children from riverfront neighborhoods often chose to swam in the Anacostia rather than supervised public pools even after they were desegregated, to avoid harassment from their white neighbors. Read more about one man’s memories of swimming in the Anacostia near the burning Kenilworth Landfill. Creating a safe, fun and accessible way for children to touch the water of the Anacostia river can begin to address decades of separation between the Anacostia River and residents of its watershed.

Interested in learning more about the Anacostia River Pool project? Head over to to sign up for updates.