Lovebirds and Ducks Agree: Alexandria Waterfront is Filthy as Homemade Sin

Love Note

I found this note on a dock at Alexandria’s waterfront area the other day while my Lovely Wife and I were taking what could have been a lovely stroll. Of course, the jerk who was so upset about pollution as to write this note also was dumb enough to make more litter by leaving it there.

The river is polluted and dirty, littered with bottles, tires, bags, shoes and even dead fish. Yes, apparently it’s even too dirty there for the fish. On our 20-minute walk, I counted no fewer than five fish floating in the filth. That’s pretty messed up.

Take a look at one view of the trash:

Potomac River Crapola

So my question is – does the river ever get cleaned up? Is anyone really working on this or is it just always going to be dirty as a rag man’s asspipe?

Carl Weaver is a writer and brewer for and has been making beer and wine for more than 20 years. He is also an avid photographer and writer and just finished his first book, about a trip he took to Thailand to live in Buddhist monasteries. He considers himself the last of the Renaissance men and the luckiest darned guy in the world. Follow him on Twitter.

4 thoughts on “Lovebirds and Ducks Agree: Alexandria Waterfront is Filthy as Homemade Sin

  1. Carl,

    You noticed the same thing that my wife and I did this past weekend — we just didn’t take a picture. Certainly not an attractive thing to see while strolling along the boardwalk in Old Town. Not a great way to greet the visitors coming over on the water taxi from National Harbor.

  2. Ooo, a hot-button topic for me, especially as I’m fresh from spending a couple hours on Saturday plucking trash out of the river and newly reminded of just how much is floating around out there. It is a mess, and I don’t know whose responsibility it is to keep the river clean (except in theory everyone’s).

    The Potomac Conservancy ( is a nonprofit that does a lot of good work toward helping the pollution you can’t see in the river (farm and construction site runoff, sewer overflows, etc.). They put out a State of the Nation’s River report last November that gave the Potomac a D+, though.

    Some of the trash you see is stormwater runoff. In Arlington, for example, stormwater is not treated and goes straight into the river. So that soda bottle you see on the sidewalk could get carried into the storm drain and then the river during a heavy rain, giving new importance to keeping litter off the streets.

    Also, with all due respect, I am much less concerned that visitors to Alexandria will be shocked by the pollution than I am about the poor fish and birds who have to live in all that muck — and by the fact that most of us in the area get our drinking water from that river. Blech! Wish I had a better answer.

  3. Donna -

    Definitely good answers. Carl, also remember that the Potomac still has tides, which will bring trash in continually. Not only do you have to get the folks in N VA to stop tossing trash in the river and via storm sewers, it needs to be everyone upstream and a good ways downstream, too.

    I would be surprised if Alexandria didn’t contribute significant resources to cleaning up every now and again, but it would literally be dumpsters full of trash daily to get it all. That’s a lot of labor, hence big $$.

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