Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2015DC175B

Identifying Sources of Chlordane Contamination in Anacostia River Food Fish

Institute: District of Columbia
Year Established: 2015 Start Date: 2015-03-01 End Date: 2016-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $10,000 Total Non-Federal Funds: $34,400

Principal Investigators: Harriette Phelps

Abstract: The Anacostia River is confluent with the freshwater tidal Potomac River and has a 456 square kilometer watershed in the District of Columbia (DC) and Maryland (MD) Most of the tidal river is in DC with the lower third at the city of Washington DC and upper two thirds bordered by National Park Service land. The DC watershed is 18% of the total watershed and 80% developed. There is little Anacostia recreational fishing in MD except upstream at Bladensburg Marina. Washington DC residents enjoy the tidal Anacostia River fishing despite posted warnings of fish pollution, primarily PBSs (polychlorinated biphenyls) and pesticides (80% chlordane) that exceed USFDA action levels. Our 12-year WRRI research surveyed the Anacostia watershed for sources of 66 EPA Priority Pollutants using active biomonitoring with translocated Asiatic Clams (Corbicula fluminea). By translocation to Anacostia sites it identified four major sources of chlordane in MD and one in DC. MD chlordane sources were in upstream subtributaries and heptachlor epoxide indicated legacy dump sites. Highly contaminated minnows were present. The DC chlordane source lacked source heptachlor epoxide, suggesting an unweathered source. DC and MD have different plans to reduce DC fish contamination: DC by dredging contaminated sediments; MD though stormwater control. DC fish contamination via the food chain has not been studied. This project will estimate chlordane contamination from upstream MD sources (heptachlor) and downstream DC (no heptachlor) via the fish food chain. Fish will be captured by electrofishing at sites along the tidal Anacostia for three size classes and analyzed for heptachlor and chlordane by species. The heptachlor/chlordane ratio could estimate MD vs DC source contribution, leading to cooperative efforts for effective chlordane control in edible fish.