Washington, D.C. – May 18 – Potomac Riverkeeper Network (PRKN) commended  Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) for introducing legislation that would fund a feasibility study to identify public swimming beach locations in the Potomac River in the District of Columbia, PRKN President Nancy Stoner announced today.

The Water Resources Development Act would mandate a feasibility study, to be completed no later than 36 months after enactment, to assess and consider open water swimming access in the Potomac River with consideration of water quality, current, security, and other water safety considerations, and the practicality of public access, transportation, and other necessities to support public swimming access.

Nancy Stoner, when asked about the legislation, said, “Swimming in our local river is a right too long denied to DC residents and visitors.  PRKN’s three-year-old Water Quality Monitoring program has demonstrated that the water is frequently safe for human contact.  Now, what we need is for the DC government to lift the ban on swimming and to create open, welcoming public beaches so that those without access to watercraft will not also be denied access to the rivers.”

The House version of the legislation was passed out of committee with the language suggested by Rep. Norton.  It will be reconciled with the Senate version of the bill, which does not contain language about swimming in DC.  PRKN urges all those who support the identification of safe open water swimming opportunities to contact their Senator and urge them to support this legislation. Stoner concluded, “As we celebrate this year’s 50th anniversary of the passage of the Clean Water Act, we hope that a milestone will be added: access for all to our Nation’s River.”

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