'Trash Pollution Diet' Announced at 5th Annual Potomac Watershed Trash Summit

Sep 23, 2010, 15:26 ET from Alice Ferguson Foundation

Highlights from Yearly Event Include the First Interstate River Trash Limit

WASHINGTON, Sept. 23 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Alice Ferguson Foundation's (AFF) 5th Annual Potomac Watershed Trash Summit took place Wednesday, along the shores of the Potomac, at the House of Sweden in Washington, D.C.  The event brought together more than 300 area influencers and decision-makers to address litter on a cross-regional level.  

"We reached significant milestones today with our partners that will result in less trash flowing to the Potomac River," said Tracy Bowen, executive director of Alice Ferguson Foundation. "EPA announced their approval of a 'trash pollution diet' for the Anacostia, we launched a multi-jurisdictional litter prevention public awareness campaign, had 21 new signers to the trash treaty and saw local leaders collectively agree to very specific measures to help eradicate litter. "

At the event, twenty one area leaders added their names to the Potomac Watershed Trash Treaty, committing their support to implementing strategies aimed at reducing trash, increasing education and awareness of the issue and reconvening at each year's Summit to evaluate progress and determine needed action.  

In addition, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released a new TMDL - or "trash pollution diet" - for the Anacostia River. TMDLs provide the scientific basis for establishing water quality-based controls and reducing pollution. Under the new action, more than 1.2 million pounds of trash must be removed or captured from the watershed annually.   The announcement makes the Anacostia the first interstate river in the nation with such a Clean Water Act trash limit.  

"The level of support for this pollution limit is impressive, as evidenced by the number of Summit participants today," explained MDE Secretary Shari T. Wilson. "Getting the requirements in place to meet the pollution limits required support from Montgomery County to come to fruition, and we appreciate the County's hard work."

This issue was a top line agenda item at last year's Summit.  The group is eager to now use the Anacostia as a model, translating its progress to the Potomac, creating the same level of public will to its improvement and ensuring it is officially declared "impaired" by the EPA.

"The TMDL is a real game changer for Montgomery County," added Boy Hoyt, director for D.C.'s department of environment.  

At the Summit, the Alice Ferguson Foundation unveiled market research it has conducted regarding the public's experiences and attitudes about litter.  This work includes testing among chronic litterers – those who toss cans, bottles, wrappers, cups, and other waste on the ground or in the water, rather than in a proper container – in order to inform a public education campaign, to be launched in 2011. Findings include:

  • Littering is a widespread problem: across the watershed, 17% of all adults admit to littering and almost four people in ten (39%) often or sometimes see someone littering.
  • Among the general public, there is a strong will to address littering: two-thirds (63%) of the public across the watershed are bothered "a lot" by litter; almost half could see themselves asking someone to stop littering (47%) or calling a number to report litterers (44%).
  • Punitive messages fall flat or backfire: start with the fact that nine out of ten residents of the region (92%) believe there is little or no chance someone will get caught when littering; among the littering population, the expectation of getting caught is lower still.

At this year's Summit, five jurisdictions committed to implementing the campaign: Arlington, D.C., Fairfax, Montgomery county and Prince George's county.

Summit attendees also discussed municipal separate storm water sewer system (MS4) requirements. Prince George's county will look to replicate actions currently underway in Montgomery County.  In addition, the EPA agreed to host several working group sessions that will focus on incorporation of litter reduction strategies in the MS4 permits.

For more information on Alice Ferguson Foundation and the Trash Free Potomac Watershed Initiative, please visit www.fergusonfoundation.org.

About the Alice Ferguson Foundation

The Alice Ferguson Foundation (AFF) was established in 1954 as a non-profit organization chartered in the state of Maryland.  Its mission is to provide experiences that encourage connections between people, the natural environment, farming and the cultural heritage of the Potomac River Watershed, which lead to personal environmental responsibility.  AFF shares the wonder and excitement of the Potomac River, a 330-acre working farm (Hard Bargain Farm), woods and wetlands each year with more than 10,000 students from the Washington, DC Metropolitan Area.  For more information, please visit www.fergusonfoundation.org.  

About the Trash Free Potomac Watershed Initiative

The Trash Free Potomac Watershed Initiative (TFPWI) addresses the Potomac watershed's trash problem by engaging citizens and community leaders, generating momentum for change and environmental responsibility. Since 1989, the annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup, the largest regional event of its kind, has rallied over 90,000 volunteers and has become a decisive catalyst for progress igniting people throughout the watershed with AFF's community spirit. In 2005, after 16 years of Cleanups, AFF and its partners recognized that trash cleanups were not addressing the root cause and sources of waterborne debris, and a systemic approach to this problem was required. In response, AFF launched the Trash Free Potomac Watershed Initiative with the goal of achieving a "Trash Free Potomac Watershed by 2013!" The objectives of the Initiative are to challenge regional leaders to work collaboratively; bring together key stakeholders to research and explore alternative, cost-effective solutions that will have long term impact; and improve general public education and awareness that can shift individual behaviors. The initiative includes the Trash Treaty, the Potomac River Watershed Cleanup, Enforcement, Regulation, Trash Free Potomac Facility Program, and a Compost Forum. For more information, please visit www.fergusonfoundation.org.


District Department of the Environment; NOAA; The Summit Fund of Washington; Altria/National Fish & Wildlife Fund; Chesapeake Bay Trust; Telemundo Washington, DC; National Park Service; Ruder Finn; Keith Campbell Foundation; Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments; Community Foundation for the National Capital Region; Greener Results Consulting; MOM's Organic Market; Exxon Mobil; Whole Foods Market Tyson's; House of Sweden; OpinionWorks; Beveridge & Diamond, P.C.; Covanta Energy; Patagonia; Mirant Mid-Atlantic, LLC; REI; Skanska Infrastructure Development; Urban Service; Buck & Associates Realtors; Safeway; Winchester Homes; HMSHost Corporation; DC WASA; Washington Metropolitan Area Corporate Counsel Association (WMACCA); Maryland Environmental Trust; Noral Group International; Rivers of the World Foundation; Fresh Creek Technologies, Inc.; Arnold & Porter LLP; 501Seats

SOURCE Alice Ferguson Foundation