We all remember, or perhaps you’ve tried to forget, the incredible amount of rain in Washington last year. Typically our region gets 40 inches of rain a year. Last year we got 63 inches – by far and away the wettest year on record.
While this much rain can be bad news for trees, it’s also bad news for rivers (and as we’ve discussed, trees and rivers, especially in cities, are intimately connected #RootstoRivers). As reported by WAMU, folks at the Anacostia Watershed Society explained, “When it rains a lot, whatever happens on land ends up in the water.” That means polluted stormwater, trash, animal waste, and dirt from eroding land flood into the river, making it a cloudy, dirty color. That cloudiness is a problem, as light can’t filter through to underwater vegetation. An indicator of water quality, aquatic vegetation acts a lot like trees do on land, they provide habitat, food, and filter the water around them.
Water cloudiness and aquatic vegetation weren’t the only indicators of river health negatively affected by the ridiculous rainfall. An influx of fecal bacteria from sewer overflows, trash, and sediment also contributed to the Anacostia’s troubles. These issues from all the polluted stormwater runoff aren’t limited to D.C. either: the Chesapeake Bay has also had a rough go thanks to the historic rain.
The good news? You can do something other than despair!
Trees are a compact, comprehensive way to intercept rain before it flows untreated into waterways. By intercepting water on their leaves, stabilizing soil with their roots, and absorbing stormwater into their roots, trees are an all-in-one stormwater mitigation machine. By planting trees, whether with us at one of our many volunteer events or on your property for free, you’re directly helping the Anacostia, and the city as a whole cope with record rainfall. Our events are no experience needed, free, food filled affairs. Our residential tree planting programs either cost you nothing, or you get money back for planting a tree you wanted to anyways. So get involved! Your river, and tree canopy, thank you.