Huge turnout for the Potomac Clean Water Paddle, DC

More than 60 people turned out for DC Surfrider’s 13th annual Clean Water Paddle on the Potomac on August 18th, 2007. Participants gathered at Thompson Boat Center in the District and paddled 1.75 miles along the Potomac river to the Key Bridge and back, atop surfboards, paddleboards, kayaks, and canoes. Several skateboarders held a banner on the Key Bridge to catch the attention of drivers and pedestrians.

In addition to DC Surfrider members, the group included employees of numerous environmental organizations and federal agencies, including NOAA, U.S. Fish & Wildlife, EPA, the National Environmental Education & Training Foundation, and The Ocean Conservancy. The paddle was established in 1994 to call attention to water-quality and watershed issues – namely, that the water, and the pollution, in DC’s rivers ultimately end up in the ocean.

That inaugural paddle drew 3 participants, half the chapter’s membership at the time, said chapter co-founder Darryl Hatheway. “The growth in the event is just phenomenal,” said chapter Vice Chair Julie Lawson. “Even away from the beach, it’s clear that coastal issues strike a chord.”

On the return trip, participants picked up trash on Roosevelt Island, collecting about a dozen large garbage bags’ worth of trash. While the majority of the trash was plastics and food and beverage containers, volunteers also found more unusual items like a hiking boot and a mesh trap‹possibly intended for turtle poaching, according to National Park Service ranger Miguel Roberson.

The paddle was followed by a presentation of prizes to the swiftest paddlers. Many participants then went to Surfrider supporter Rugby Café in Georgetown for a post-event lunch, including random prize giveaways and a discussion of water conservation by Ranger Roberson.

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