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The Nation's River A report on the Potomac from the U.S. Department of the Interior   By:

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A report on the Potomac from the U.S. Department of the Interior, with recommendations for action by the Federal Interdepartmental Task Force on the Potomac.




October 1, 1968

Dear Mr. President

The enclosed report, The Nation's River , is submitted in response to your February 8, 1965, request that we prepare a program for your consideration which would assure that the Potomac would serve as a model of scenic and recreation values for the entire country.

This is the final report of your Potomac planning team. In my opinion, the study contributes significantly to a more complete understanding of both the opportunities and the problems of this magnificent river. The proposed program of action, when implemented, will move the area a long step forward toward the challenging goals identified in your directive.

Your call for a broadly based conservation plan for the Potomac has stimulated a wide range of useful actions by citizens' groups and by the Federal, State and local governments during the course of our studies. While these are too numerous to recite, the participation and involvement of citizens in decisions affecting the future of the Basin are most promising and deserve recognition and encouragement.

Our recommendations for action cover three broad aspects:

... those related to present and future water resource problems in the Basin; ... those related to the protection and restoration of the Basin's scenic and natural assets; ... those to ensure that future planning and action will proceed in a wise and coordinated manner.

I call particular attention to the following recommendations:

... to protect the mainstem Potomac River and its banks from Washington to Cumberland, Maryland, and to make it accessible to the public, the report calls for prompt legislative authorization, funding and establishment of a Potomac National River consisting of Federal, State and local components. The proposed legislation to establish the Potomac National River which you sent to the Congress on March 6, 1968, and which was introduced as S. 3157, is based on the new and exciting concept that the urgent objectives of Potomac River conservation can and should be accomplished through cooperative action by all levels of government;

... to achieve the water quality goals established as State standards, the report recommends coordination of Federal, State and local powers to achieve the waste treatment measures required, within five years, and effective action toward meeting similar requirements in handling wastes at all Federal establishments in the Basin. It calls, also, for immediate reconvening of the 1957 Enforcement Conference on the Potomac to focus attention on the timetables for controlling pollution in the estuary;

... to provide a measure of drought insurance, the report calls for early completion of Bloomington Dam and Reservoir;

... to meet growing needs for municipal and industrial water to achieve anticipated economic growth in upstream areas, the report identified six reservoirs which are consistent with other aspects of the report. The river management afforded by operation of the reservoirs could also meet the water supply needs of the Washington metropolitan area for at least 20 years. The report urges continuing research and study of alternative sources for the metropolitan area supply, including use of the upper estuary to meet critical short term demands;

... to assure continuity of comprehensive planning and management, the report recognizes the need to mobilize the skills and authorities of all levels of government and support therefore by alert and informed citizens and citizen groups. The Governors of the Basin States and the District of Columbia have proposed a Federal Interstate Compact for the Potomac and arranged to have a draft prepared by the Potomac River Basin Advisory Committee... Continue reading book >>

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