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Potomac Rated America's Most Endangered River

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American Rivers is calling for Congress to take action before wildlife like the osprey can no longer live along the Potomac.
American Rivers is calling for Congress to take action before wildlife like the osprey can no longer live along the Potomac.

Every year since 1986, an advocacy organization known as American Rivers has issued a report on the state of the nation's rivers. This year, the Potomac River earns the dubious distinction of being the most endangered river in the country as a result of threats from pollution and development.

"When a member of Congress makes his or her morning cup of coffee, they are drinking Potomac River water," says American Rivers president Bob Irvin. "So we all should be concerned about the quality of that water."

The report notes the Potomac is cleaner than it used to be, although it's still threatened by urban and agricultural pollution. Irvin says that is a problem that could get much worse if Congress rolls back critical clean water safeguards.

"We actually have situations now where many of the male fish found in the Potomac River carry eggs," says Irvin. "That's not the way nature intended it."

Another nearby waterway is on the top-10 list of endagered rivers. According to the organization, West Virginia's Coal River is threatened by mountaintop removal mining.


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